Spurgeon – JESUS INTERCEDING FOR TRANSGRESSORS on the cross

His View From The Cross by James Tissot c. 1895DELIVERED ON LORD’S-DAY MORNING, NOVEMBER 18, 1877, BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.

“And made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:12.

Our blessed Lord made intercession for transgressors in so many words while He was being crucified, for He was heard to say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” It is generally thought that He uttered this prayer at the moment when the nails were piercing His hands and feet and the Roman soldiers were roughly performing their duty as executioners. At the very commencement of His passion He begins to bless His enemies with His prayers. As soon as the Rock of our salvation was smitten, there flowed forth from Him a blessed stream of intercession. Our Lord fixed His eyes upon that point in the character of His persecutors which was most favorable to them, namely, that they knew not what they did.

He could not plead their innocence and, therefore, He pleaded their ignorance. Ignorance could not excuse their deed, but it did lighten their guilt and, therefore, our Lord was quick to mention it as in some measure an extenuating circumstance. The Roman soldiers, of course, knew nothing of His higher mission—they were the mere tools of those who were in power—and though they “mocked Him, coming to Him, and offering Him vinegar,” they did so because they misunderstood His claims and regarded Him as a foolish rival of Caesar, only worthy to be ridiculed. No doubt the Savior included these rough Gentiles in His supplications. And perhaps their centurion who “glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous Man,” was converted in answer to our Lord’s prayer.

As for the Jews, though they had some measure of light, yet they, also, acted in the dark. Peter, who would not have flattered any man, yet said, “And now, brethren, I know that through ignorance you did it, as did, also, your rulers.” It is doubtless true that, had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory, though it is equally clear that they ought to have known Him, for His credentials were clear as noonday! Our Redeemer, in that dying prayer of His, shows how quick He is to see anything which is, in any degree, favorable to the poor clients whose cause He has undertaken. He spied out in a moment the only fact upon which compassion could find a foothold and He secretly breathed out His loving heart in the cry, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Our great Advocate will be sure to plead wisely and efficiently on our behalf! He will urge every argument which can be discovered, for His eyes, quickened by love, will suffer nothing to pass which may be in our favor. The Prophet, however, does not, I suppose, intend to confine our thoughts to the one incident which is recorded by the Evangelists, for the intercession of Christ was an essential part of His entire lifework. The mountain’s side often heard Him, beneath the chilly night, pouring out His heart in supplications. He might as fitly be called the Man of Prayers as, “the Man of Sorrows.”

Read the sermon in  its entirety here- http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols22-24/chs1385.pdf

John Piper’s last sermon as Pastor of Bethlehem Church

Photo from Star Tribune

from the Star Tribune-

After more than 30 years as senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, the fiery preacher of hardline biblical values is retooling his priorities.

But he won’t go quietly into retirement. At 66, he still has the passion to write books, preach and tour the country with his Desiring God ministry, just not so much for the day-to-day duties of running a megachurch with close to 5,000 weekly attendees.

„I have … a limited amount of energy, and I want it to go toward reading, writing, preaching but not organizational efforts at meetings,” Piper said in a recent interview.

A prominent theologian and author of dozens of books, Piper is considered one of the most influential voices in conservative evangelicalism.

This was Pastor John Piper’s last sermon as Pastor of Bethlehem Church, due to his retirement from the position. The sermon  was delivered on December 29th, 2012. However, to our delight, Piper will still be speaking at different conferences and venues and his work will continue. from desiringGod.org – http://desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/sorrowful-yet-always-rejoicing

Sorrowful Yet Always Rejoicing

Luis Palau – Two sermons in Scotland at historic St. Peter’s Free Church of Scotland

Luis Palau en el púlpito

Here are two sermons form Luis Palau from the morning and evening services held on October 16, 2011 at the historic St. Peter’s Free Church of Scotland. (the Church of Robert Murray McCheyne) Uploaded by SolasCPC

The evangelist Luis Palau gives this morning’s sermon on what it means to become a new creation in Christ. It’s a staggering event being born again to eternal life.

Morning service

The evangelist Luis Palau gives the evening’s sermon on God’s gift of eternal life.

Evening service

Matt Chandler – Holiness Part 4 – A Holy People

See Part 1 – Holiness

See Part 2 – Holiness – The Goodness of God

See Part 3 – Holiness – The „How” Matters

Listen to the audio here – Play Download:MP3
Read the notes from the entire sermon here- http://media.thevillagechurch.net/sermons
Here’s a few paragraph excerpts from the sermon:
  • 1 Peter, chapter 2. We’re going to just walk through this phrase by phrase, so don’t panic. Me saying that probably has some of you panicking, but I promise, I don’t believe this week will go too long. Verse 9: „But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession…” Now if I were you, I’d underline that, because if you are a Christian, if you are a believer in Christ, this is your identity. This is who you are. So far this has said nothing of what you do but rather who you are, so that you and I, in Christ, are a chosen race. Now I love that first one as much as I love any of them. We are a chosen race. You have not just individuals but a race of people, and it’s a race that’s built across cultures and across colors. Are you following me? There’s a new chosen race, the church of Jesus Christ, the legitimate Israel of God, the chosen ones of God. Therefore, this race is made up of all tribes, all tongues, and all nations.
  • Then he doesn’t just say royalty. He says priesthood. So we are a royal priesthood. Not only do I belong to the chosen race, but I am also, you are also, in the royal priesthood, which means we have clear and constant access to God. Everything in our lives…everything (work, play, rest)…is done in worship to God, as we are priests of God. We could go to Romans 12 to show this. We could go all over the Bible to show that as a believer in Christ, we are a royal priesthood. We are God’s chosen race, and we live in the presence of God.
  • I think really a lot of us have legitimate issues because we don’t understand this and we’ve lost our respect for the presence of God. We don’t believe our lives are playing out in front of a holy God who sees all. The Bible is saying, „No, no, no. Your whole life is a life of worship, and if you are not living a life of worship in work, in play, in rest, in your hobbies, in your marriage, in your relationships with your kids, if that’s not worship to you, then you’re out of character of who you are, because who you are is a priest, a royal priest, in the chosen race of God’s people. My whole life is a life of worship. Your whole life is a life of worship. That doesn’t mean singing, but singing is a part of worship. It just doesn’t mean you’re always singing about your marriage, singing to your kids. These are not the same words. Worship and singing are not the same words. You can worship as you sing. You can sing worshipfully toward the Lord. But when I say the word worship, I’m not talking about singing, but rather talking about the reality of a heart that’s been captivated by God. That plays itself out in our relationships. That plays itself out in our workplaces. That plays out… We are a royal priesthood.
  • Then look where he goes next. „…a holy nation.” So again, I think one of the really difficult parts about preaching the Word of God in this day and age is individualism is so rampant that we’re very quick to get away from the us to the me. In all of these components, I love it because it’s bigger. You are a chosen race. That’s bigger than just you. It’s bigger than your blackness, bigger than your whiteness, bigger than your cultural backgrounds. It’s bigger than you as an individual and what makes up you as an individual. Then you are a royal priesthood. It didn’t say you are royal priest; it says you are a royal priesthood. So he is speaking not just to an individual, although it does have individual implications, but rather to a group of people. We are a holy nation. So let me explain this in a way I think might be helpful for us. That means the believers in Jesus Christ who love Jesus Christ and go to Fellowship Church are my countrymen. The believers in Jesus Christ who love Jesus Christ and go right down the street to Crossroads Bible, they are my countrymen.
  • My job description, what I’ve been called to do as this holy nation, a part of this chosen race, as royalty, as a priest, is to (now this is it; this is my job description) declare his excellencies. Then he breaks it down. His excellencies. What part of his excellencies, because that’s vast? That he has called us out of darkness and into light. So really, if we start to get high enough up on this whole four weeks and start to really look on it, you have a holy God who has made a way in Jesus Christ to make us holy, his love being the primary motivator toward that holiness, so he considers us his chosen race. He has decreed we are royalty in Jesus Christ. He has given us direct access to him.
  • We have a relationship with God. He is not some sort of ethereal thing in the sky. It’s not a checklist. It’s not a, „Do these things so I don’t get caught.” It is: I have a relationship with God. I am free to pray. I am free to engage. I’m free to walk. I’m free to stumble. I’m free to fail. I am considered by God as part of his own possession. He would consider me his own. God cries out over me. Mine? Me? Now I don’t know how that hits you, but I know what I’m guilty of. I know what’s in my heart. I know some of my motivations are tainted. I know these things about me, and yet God sits over my life and decrees, „This one is mine. This guy is mine”? I mean, do you know how many people are outside these walls right now who have no idea, have no interest, have no desire even to know who God is, have no real yearning to know about him at all? But not you, not me. Here we are, and God has stood over our lives and put the banner of great love flowing out of his mercy, by which (this was last week, right?) he extends to us faith to believe in the grace that we might become his workmanship and walk in the good works he prepared in advance for us to do. Our job is to just make much of his excellencies, primarily that he has called us out of darkness and into light.
  • It’s the greatest news in the universe because if God is for God, if God is about you being holy in Jesus Christ so that he might display his excellencies, so that you might herald his excellencies, so you might make much of his goodness and grace, that means the commands of God, then, are not about your begrudging submission, but the commands of God are actually about you walking in the fullness of life. So when God says, „Do these things,” God is not after your begrudging submission, because God is for God. So God wants you to walk in what’s going to bring you fullness of joy, not happiness all the time, but joy, so he might be made much of.

Related links

 

Matt Chandler – Holiness Part 2 – God’s Goodness

Read/Listen to Holiness Part 1 here

Holiness (2) God’s Goodness – Listen to the audio here- Play Download:MP3

Read the notes from the entire sermon here- http://www.thevillagechurch.net/media/sermons/transcripts

Here’s a few paragraph excerpts from the sermon:

  • So we said last week the topic of holiness and the idea of holiness is really fertile ground for doubt. The reason that’s true is the Bible is going to bear its weight on every area of your life. There is not any area of your life the Bible doesn’t explicitly or implicitly set a standard that God has for you over your life. The reality is when we hear or we understand or we feel the standard of God, which by the way is moral perfection, we’re always well underneath it, aren’t we? It’s a rare thing for us to ever hear what God has decreed, what God has commanded for our lives and have our response be, Nailed it! That just doesn’t happen very often. If you feel that way, most of the time you are hammering into the wrong wood.So what happens when the idea, when the topic of holiness comes up, is one of two things. Either we get this feeling we’re perpetually trying to climb this mountain and never really getting to the top and oftentimes sliding back down to where we began. So that’s where some of the doubt begins. Or we just don’t care. This feels impossible. Jesus isn’t working for me. And we bail. This idea of holiness becomes this really kind of fertile ground for paralyzing doubt to take root in our hearts.So when we talk about God’s holiness, we’re talking about his majesty. We very quickly defined that last week as an imposing grandeur. That to look upon God is to look upon something that is massive. Awe-inspiring, but at the same time imposing. So if you’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon, if you’ve ever been to a real ocean (not a fake one, but a real one), and you’ve stood and you’ve been a part of some sort of natural order in which you have felt small and you’ve felt a tinge of fear…not terror; just a tinge of fear.
  • So the way I try to explain it is if you’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon and you have your toes on the edge, you’ve kind of looked over. That kind of queasy feeling in your gut, that kind of shudder that goes through you, that’s awe. That’s grandeur. That’s majesty.
  • So what you see consistently happening in the Bible is the Bible’s claim that any authority on earth governmentally, kings and authorities and powers, are given by God to people. Now that creates another problem for us, doesn’t it? This goes back to understanding that God is morally perfect in all he does. Because what do you do with dictators and rulers who ultimately are cruel and butcher their people and are responsible for genocide, because the Bible doesn’t say, „I put the good kings in place”? He says he puts all kings in place and that kings as they act out their rulership are simply working the providential plan of God. So how do you reconcile that? Here’s what I do. Here’s what I would do according to the Word of God: I’m stuck inside of time. Let me be frank. I was born in 1974. I read a lot of history. I am no expert. All I know is that God is morally perfect and that somehow outside of time, those men are working for God and that even then God is morally perfect and not evil in any way. And so just a side note. It’s been a while since I’ve said this, but I want to perpetually lay it before you, because some of you don’t like it. Some of you are like, Ah, it’s a copout. Some of you want to shake your fist at the heavens, but I want to kind of explain it.
  • Everyone in this room regardless of their belief is going to bring glory to God. It’s the purpose for which you exist. Some will bring glory to God by being trophies of God’s grace. Some of you are going to bring glory to God by rebelling against God and receiving God’s just judgment on your life. So even the most hardened man who wants to shake his fist at the heavens is simply bringing glory to God’s justice. So everyone brings glory to God. Even kings and rulers who rule in an evil, wicked way are accomplishing in God’s providence the purposes of God.
  • You have a piece where there’s a positional type of holiness where God views you as holy, but you have an external type of holiness here in Romans 8 (which is why we read it) where it says God in his Godness is not only giving you a positional holiness but is conforming you to the image of his Son, Jesus, the perfect One. So God in his Godness is not only giving us a positional holiness where he sees us as holy, but he is also actively transforming us into more and more and more morally upright, holy people. So here’s the big question…How does he do that? Because that’s important. So how does he go about doing that? Well, that’s next week.

Related links

Matt Chandler – Holiness Part 1 of 4

Coming up daily Parte 2,3 and 4.

Listen to the audio here- http://my.ekklesia360.com

Click on photo for The Village Church audio sermon (54 minutes)

Read the notes from the entire sermon here- http://www.thevillagechurch.net/media/sermons/transcripts

Where you start on the point of holiness, external, moral holiness is not you at all. It’s the wrong starting point. If we’re going to talk about holiness we’ll have to start with God.

  • Here’s what I’ll tell you. I don’t believe in any way that our faith is a blind faith, and I find nowhere in Scripture that God has asked us to detach our minds from how he reveals himself to be. But here’s also where I press on you. Don’t pretend like you’re not living in a grid of faith right now. Well, no. My reality is defined by science. Science has a great deal of faith involved in it. Now if you want to talk about boiling water, no. But if you want to talk about why we’re here, where we came from, it’s… The word in science for faith is theory. That’s faith in science: theory. „We can’t prove it, but we think this is how it works.”
  • We try to fill in the gap. We begin to try to get up to God’s standard. By the way, his standard is hopelessly impossible. „Be holy, because I am. Be like me.” The rest of the Bible is going to say, „You’re not like me, but be like me.” Then we get stuck in this climb and slide, climb and slide type of existence with the Lord.
  • Not only is God, in his holiness, majestic, but he is also pure and morally perfect. Now I just created a bit of a philosophical, theological train wreck. I don’t know if you spotted it, but let’s chat some about it. If God is pure and morally perfect, what do we do about the reality that such horrific things occur? If he is all-knowing and everywhere at once and all-knowledgeable, why doesn’t he stop it? How is him not stopping it just and morally pure? I mean, that’s hard, isn’t it? Do we agree that’s hard?
  • God hasn’t painted in the words of Scripture some alternate reality we’re not experiencing. Isn’t the Bible filled with famines, loss, murder, rape, incest, death, disease? It shouldn’t surprise us! Where is this coming from? God didn’t try to hide this. What we see happening in the Scriptures and one of the reasons I’m trying to constantly drive you to the Scriptures is that God is at work in the mess in ways we can’t fathom.
  • One of the big reasons I’d love for you to read your Bible more than you do is because you’ll see how messy it is. You’ll look at guys who God says, „I love this guy,” and you go, This guy? I mean, this guy is a bum. He loves that guy? He extends grace to that guy, gives mercy to that guy? Maybe there is a shot for me. Or when the day of trouble arrives, you won’t be caught off guard as if that just arrived. I mean, it’s also been. The world is a broken place. What we know about God is that everything he does is good and holy and perfect.

Related links

Preaching with elevated vagueness

According to an article on Patheos SPURGEON liked to quote this about vague preachers:

The classic evangelical take-down of Robertson’s overblown reputation is the line: “Robertson believed that Christ did something or other, which, somehow or other, had some connexion or other with salvation.” Spurgeon didn’t coin that one, but he loved to quote it.

JOHN PIPER exhorting preachers to be crystal clear in their preaching:

It was in a tweet by Fred Sanders linking to his article about F. W. Robertson, a 19th century British preacher. Even before I read the article I could smell the rot. Robertson, it has been discovered, was covering his sexual affair in private while covering the truth in the pulpit.

That is not surprising. There is a connection between skilled vagueness and concealed immorality. Why else would a man use great gifts to make things unclear unless he was afraid of clarity? And fear of clarity in preaching is a good sign that something besides doctrine is being concealed.

This is not new. And the reason I call attention to Sanders’ article is because I want to plead with pastors to be crystal clear in their preaching, and surgically clean in their private lives. Read the entire John Piper article here-

Fred Sanders in his article- http://www.patheos.com/blogs/scriptorium/2010/08/f-w-robertsons-life-and-death/

In the last few years, new light has been shed on Robertson’s personal life. Investigators have discovered Robertson’s private journal from the year 1849. He made his entries in a code that protected its contents from those who shared his household, but is no barrier to later scholars. What’s in the journal? No surprise: extramarital sex. The entry for October 1, 1849: “Four hours in bed with Augusta.” Mrs. Robertson’s name was Ellen, and the name of Augusta’s husband (she had one) is not recorded.

Sanders also quotes Doug Wilson:

Doug Wilson once described the connection between pastoral sin and vague preaching, in a blog post titled “Porn as Liturgical Corruption:”

when men preach wiggle room they often find that other men will frequently like the look of that wiggle room…. This creates a cycle — the minister is being pushed to compromise from within, and once he begins preaching more tolerant (and therefore more tolerable) sermons, he begins to be pulled. He has presented handles to those who would pull him. And so the lie about Jesus that he has allowed to take root in his heart is a lie that works its way into his manuscript. And from there into other hearts.

Read the entire Fred Sanders article here-  http://www.patheos.com

Read the Doug Wilson article here – http://www.dougwils.com/Sex-and-Culture/Porn-as-Liturgical-Corruption.html

Matt Chandler – Gravity The Weight of Pastoring to the Knowledge of Christ

April 7,2006

photo form http://www.blog.sojournchurch.com

More Matt Chandler Sermon messages here

At Dallas Theological Seminary from April 7,2006 att Chandler is the Pastor of The Village Church in Highland, Texas.

I want you to just take a walk with me through the life of Jesus and see some things, because I think if you see them as we walk through this, then maybe some of your broken places could get restored.

In Hebrews 2:16-17 it says  For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the[o]descendant of Abraham. 17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, tomake propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.

Abraham here means you and I. In ‘He had to be made like His brethren in all things’ we find out that Jesus was the firstborn of many brothers (you and me being the brethren) that He had to be made like his brethren in all things.

For me there was a disjoint in studying the life of Jesus. The cross of Christ, the purchasing, the propitiation for our sins and the difficulty of life in which He lived didn’t always seem to add up for me. It seems that Jesus could have been born into that manger, could have lived a normal life, a life that we’re reading here (in the Bible) not so normal. It is a life filled with betrayal, and pain, and death, and hardship, and longing, and aching. I mean, you name it, it’s an extremely difficult life and I find myself saying, „Why? Why so necessary for Him to suffer so much? Why so necessary for Him to hurt so much? Why so necessary for such darkness to be around the walkings of Jesus on earth? Could He not just be slaughtered on the cross and let us have our propitiation?

The text says that Jesus knew the gravity of hate, of loss, of betrayal, of being overwhelmed, of being exhausted and being taunted as you seek God…so when I get that phone call (of someone who died, etc) He sits there with me and says, „I know, I know”.  And that in that moment when betrayal happens, and I promise you (that) church folk are like piranha. If you look strong they’ll leave you alone, but if you have a limp they will eat you alive. At that moment when betrayal occurs and you feel so angry and frustrated He’s not in the heavens saying, „Yeah, we need to figure out that I’ve got this thing”. Instead He goes, „… I know… I know”. So I know that you and I have choices on the kind of people that we are and the kind of people that we’re becoming and I know that when gravity strikes the soul there’s the chance that bitterness and anger and hurt begin to reign in the soul and I know that because it happens all over in the Scriptures .

In Ruth you find Naomi saying, „Quit calling me Naomi, you call me Mara”, after the death of her husband and her sons, Mara (being) the Hebrew word for bitter. She began to be owned by her own sorrow. And then job’s wife, who in the middle of her husband’s great despair would say, „Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die, you fool”. I know there is this idea, there can become this pretense that happens- the gravity of the fallen world weighs heavily on our soul and there has to be this pretense that we’re ok. There has to be the gravity that the world has fallen upon us and so we bury it and the root of bitterness begins to take root. And my hope is that maybe the simple knowledge that He knows, maybe the simple knowledge that Jesus endured  difficulty and pain and hardship ‘for such a moment as this’, when you have loss, or anger, or maybe in your journey you’re frustrated because it seems in the dissecting of theology and theology becoming systematic for you, you somehow have lost your heart… that maybe in the gravity of these things we may not find ourselves running from Him, pretending, but to Him in honesty. As the Scriptures say, „He knows and is able to be faithful and merciful to His brothers”.

Charles Spurgeon on True Spiritual Worship

In this sermon Spurgeon addresses worship. Because of man’s fallenness, Spurgeon contends that worship in spirit is a rarity. Here is a snippet of what he means (you can read the entire sermon afterwards):

Since that day the Lord has been treated by carnal men in one of three ways; either God is adored by outward symbols as among Brahminists, Romanists, Puseyites, and other idolaters; or else he is worshipped through ritualism, as among too many who claim to be orthodox, who contend for pre-arranged, and unbending forms; written or unwritten as the case may be: or else men show an utter indifference to God altogether, and then rush into superstitious reverence for something or other which is evil, and therefore to be dreaded and spoken of with awe. This is the history of religious worship, that let spiritual worship assume what form it may, man always will if he can, get away from it and forget his God and set up something seen, instead of bowing down before the unseen; hence the necessity of the second commandment in the Decalogue, „Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, and so on.” This is not a command against worshipping another God, that is the first commandment, but a command against worshipping God under any shape, or through any medium or under any symbol; for he is a spirit, and must be worshipped in spirit and in truth and not by symbols. Against this command the human mind is always dashing itself, and in one shape or another idolatry is the ruling religion of mankind.

The entire sermon is printed below. Source – http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0695.htm

Sermon (No. 695) Delivered on Sunday Morning, June 17th, 1866, by
C. H. SPURGEON, At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington

The Axe at the Root—A Testimony Against Puseyite Idolatry

„But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”—John 4:23-24.

THE WOMAN’S CONSCIENCE had been aroused by Christ’s declaration of her sin. He was touching upon matters of the most vital importance, and her depraved heart naturally shrunk from the lancet, From the truth which was becoming inconveniently personal she flew to that natural resort of the carnal mind, namely, to religions discourse upon points of outward observance. Instead of confessing her sin, and asking how it may be forgiven, she must needs say, „Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” The carnal heart dreads the contact of spiritual truth, and finds a most convenient way of avoiding it by running to questions of holy places, holy times, and holy customs. Jesus, to her astonishment, informs her that the question which she had asked was of only temporary importance. There had been a time when it was well to know that salvation was of the Jews, and that the rival temple of the Samaritans was an imposture; but he says in effect to her, „Woman, believe me that question is of no importance now, for the hour cometh, yea and now is, when the external is to be abolished and the ritualistic is to be put away, and a purer, simpler, and more spiritual worship, is to take its place.”

The worship which our Lord Jesus Christ established involved a change. That is implied in the expressions here used. He announced to her that the hour was just then come when all questions about this or that place must cease, and be superseded by spiritual worship. Our Lord gave a very brief, but I think a very instructive description of what this worship was to be. If you observe carefully the words, you will see that it was a distinguishing kind of worship, for he mentions true worshippers. There had been but little distinction before; so long as they all passed through the same outward form they all seemed to be worshippers; but a distinction was now to be made clear and manifest. Merely outward worshippers were now false worshippers, and only those who pressed into spiritual worship were to be regarded as true. The gospel of Christ is a great discerner and an accurate judge. Christ has the winnowing fan in his hand; he sits as a refiner; he is compared by the prophet to the „refiner’s fire” and to „fuller’s soap;” and hence you see he discerns at once between worshippers and worshippers. There they stand both alike with bended heads, perhaps both repeating the same words, but the Savior distinguishes: „there is,” saith he, „a false worshipper, and there is a true worshipper, and he alone who is spiritual is true.” He announces further that under the gospel God is to be worshipped in the character of a Father; true worshippers shall worship the Father. This had not been the case before. The Lord had been adored as the Adonai, and reverenced as Jehovah; but to say „Our Father which art in heaven” remains the prerogative of the enlightened Christian who, having believed in Christ, has received power to become a son of God. True Christian worship addresses God, not merely as Creator and Preserver, or as the great Lord of the Universe, but as one who is very near of kin to us, our Father, beloved of our souls. Jesus likewise states that gospel worship is to be of a kind which does not result from the man himself merely, but comes from God, and is a work of grace. This is implied in the sentence, „The Father seeketh such to worship him,” as if no true worship would come from any man unless God sought it. True devotion under the Christian dispensation is not merely human but also divine. It is the work of the Spirit in the soul returning to its author; or as our hymn puts it—

„Prayer is the breath of God in man,
Returning whence it came.”These are very grave points, and draw a broad line of distinction between the living worship of the chosen of God and the dead formal worship of the world which lieth in the wicked one.
Furthermore, the Savior goes on to say that they who worship God are to worship him „in spirit.” No longer with the visible sacrifice of a lamb, but inwardly trusting in him who is the Lamb of God’s passover; no more with sprinkled blood of goats, but heartily relying upon the blood once shed for many; no longer worshipping God with ephod, breastplate, and mitre, but with prostrate soul, with uplifted faith, and with the faculties not of the body but of the inward spirit. We who worship God under the Christian dispensation are no longer to fancy that bodily exercise in worship profiteth anything, that genuflexions and contortions are of any value, but that acceptable worship is wholly mental, inward, and spiritual.

But he adds, lest there should seem an omission in the description, „must worship him in spirit and in truth;” for though we should profess to worship God only with the spirit and so despise forms, yet unless the soul shall truly love, and really adore, and sincerely bow, our worship will be as unacceptable as though it were formal and outward. See then, brethren, putting the whole three together, the worship under the Christian dispensation which God ordains, and which he accepts through Christ Jesus, is a worship distinguished by an inward vitality from the outward worship of the carnal mind. It is the worship of a child towards a father, feeling within himself a kinship with the divine; it is a worship wrought in us by God the Holy Ghost, because the Father has sought us out and taught us how to worship him. It is a worship which is not outward, but of the inner man, and occupies not hand, eye, and foot, but heart and soul and spirit: and it is a worship which is not professional and formal, but real, hearty, earnest, and so acceptable before God.

Let me give a sketch of this worship as it actually exhibits itself. A man may have been to a place of worship from his youth up, and he may have fallen into a habit of repeating a sacred form every morning and every evening, he may even have been a tolerably diligent reader of the Word of God, and yet though this may have been continued for sixty years and more, he may never once have worshipped God after the fashion prescribed in the text. But see him! the Father seeks him, truth comes home to his soul, and in the light of that truth he feels himself a sinner, and feeling himself so, he cries, „Father, I have sinned.” That is his first true worship. See, brethren, his spirit feels it, he means what he says. All that he said before was as nothing, but that first cry „I have sinned” has in it the vitality of worship. He hears the story of the cross, the full atonement made by God’s appointed sacrifice, and he prays, „Lord, I believe in Jesus, and I trust him;” here is another specimen of true worship; here is the spirit resting upon God’s appointed sacrifice, and reverencing God’s way of salvation by accepting it. Being saved by the precious blood of Jesus, he cries, „Father, I bless thee that I am saved, I thank thee that my sins are washed away.” This is true worship. Whether a man sings in the assembly, or sings alone; whether he prays aloud, or prays in silence, if he feels gratitude to God for pardon received, he offers the true worship. The whole of the Christian’s life, consisting as it must do of dealings with the invisible God through Jesus Christ by his heart, is a life of worship, and when at last he comes to die, you perceive that his worship will not cease with death, because it has always been spiritual, and did not depend upon the body. So that while the outward man faileth him, the inward spiritual man grows more strong in devotion than ever it was before; and when at last the spirit leaves its earthly tenement, and is disembodied, it has still a song for God, and throughout eternity its spiritual worship can continue; which worship must have been suspended if it had been connected with the body, and not with the immortal part of man.

If I understand the Savior’s words, and I hope I do, not only theoretically but practically, he means that those of us who are his true worshippers must worship him with our better and our nobler part, and our soul, with all the power she has, must pay reverence to the unseen God, Brethren, this is the kind of worship that men will not render to God; they will render him anything else but this; and until divinely effectual grace shall work such worship in man’s heart it is obnoxious to him; he will worship God with robes, and incense, and flowers, and banners, but he will not consent to worship him in spirit and in truth.

I. I shall proceed to my work by giving A BRIEF OUTLINE OF THE HISTORY OF WORSHIP, in connection with the doctrine that we are now to worship more manifestly than ever God in spirit and in truth. It appears from Scripture that worship before the flood was of the very simplest form. The outward ordinances were very few; the chief of them being the offering of sacrifice. This was probably instituted by God himself when he clothed Adam and his wife with skins of beasts; it has been thought that he then indicated to them the slaughter of beasts for sacrifice. Certain it is that the first worship of fallen man was by sacrifice. There was connected with this no doubt the meeting of gracious hearts for prayer, and also the ministration of truth, for Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord; so that they appear to have had what was tantamount to a ministry, and the sons of God had appointed times for meeting. But this simple form of worship seems to have been too high, too spiritual for fallen man at the first; at any rate the seed of the serpent could not endure it, for Cain at the very first commenced a schism; instead of bringing a sacrifice by blood he must needs bring a sacrifice of the fruits of the ground. Perhaps he was a man of taste, and desired to bring something that should look more decorous than a poor bleeding victim; he would lay those rich grapes, those ruddy fruits upon the altar; and those fair flowers that gemmed the bosom of earth, surely he might consecrate those. At any rate he was the first man who set up taste and self as the guide in religious worship, and God had no respect unto his sacrifice. The two stood by their altars; Abel by faith, exercising spiritual worship, offered a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain; Cain’s offering was possibly even more fair to look upon but it was of his own invention; Abel was accepted, but Cain discarded. The ultimate result of man’s sinfulness in connection with this early type of worship was general neglect of all religion. The sons of God seem to have maintained their simplicity for a time, but at last by unholy alliances with the ungodly race there arose a widespread neglect of all thought of God, so that they were married and given in marriage, they ate and they drank till the day when the flood came and swept them all away. Depraved nature thus refused to render spiritual worship. After the flood we find worship restored in very much the same form: let us distinguish it as the patriarchal method of worship. The head of a family was accustomed to offer sacrifice, and no doubt if Job be taken as a type thereof family prayer and household religion were maintained, But you see very early the indication that man, although he could not forget God, for the deluge had struck to the very heart of manhood an awful dread of the Most High, began to interpose symbols and visible objects between God and himself. The use of teraphim became very common; so that in the house even of Abraham’s ancestors teraphs were found; and when we come down to the time of Jacob, we find one of his wives stealing her father’s images, thus proving that Laban, one of a once God-fearing family, had become a worshipper of God through the medium of images. Thus was it among those who still had some knowledge of God; but the nations being dispersed, soon lost the pure idea of the invisible One, and worshipped gods of their own devising. From the plagues of Egypt, which were no doubt intended to be a blow against all Egypt’s gods, we find out that, in addition to the worship of the calf or bull, the Egyptians paid religious reverence to flies, the river Nile, the elements, beetles, and all kinds of creatures; and throughout the world, as a general rule, through the introduction of visible symbols of the unseen Being, the Lord himself had become forgotten, and spiritual worship had almost ceased, except in one elect household; and even there, alas! how fallen had spirituality become!

Keeping to the line of grace, we shall now introduce you to theceremonial form of worship which God instituted after the more spiritual method had entirely broken down. He saw that the children of Israel whom he loved were but a mob of slaves; their spirits had been broken by bitter bondage; like the poor African race of the present day, they seemed as a whole incapable of rising at once to mental dignity, and needed to pass through a generation or two before they could as a nation achieve manly self-government. So when he brought his people out of Egypt the Lord did not try them with an altogether spiritual form of worship; because of the hardness of their hearts among other reasons, though he was still to be worshipped as a spirit, yet he gave them certain outward signs by which they might be enabled to understand his character. A great deal has been made of the symbolical worship of the Jew, as if it were an excuse for the manmade symbolism of the Roman and Anglican Antichrist. We would remark that nothing ought to be made of it at all now, since it has been positively declared many times in Scripture that the age of the shadow has gone, and that the age of the substance now reigns. Whatever may or may not have been the excellence of the old Jewish economy—and being divinely ordained, God forbid we should say a word against it—yet the apostle Paul always talks of it as being but a yoke of bondage to which we are no more to submit ourselves, being but the shadow and not the very image of the good things which were to come; and he speaks of it as a thing so passed away, that to go back to it is to go back to the rudiments, and not to go onward in the full-grown manliness of Christianity. If there were no other passage my text might show that the ceremonialism of the Jew is no excuse whatever for ceremonialism now, but that we ought to stand in direct contrast to that, hearing the Savior declare, that whatever may have been before his time, the hour had come when the true worshipper must worship the Father in spirit and in truth.

Remember that symbolical worship was suitable merely to the infancy of God’s church, and that now having received the Spirit of God to dwell in us it would be as unsuitable as would the swaddling bands of babyhood to full-grown men. Besides, even while it existed it was spoken of as soon to be superseded by a new and better covenant. It was frequently broken through by divine authority. Elijah though not at all of the house of Levi offered sacrifice, and prophet after prophet as he arose manifested and declared by his actions that God did not intend to give the Levitical form of worship undivided sway, but that when he poured his Spirit upon special men they were to break through all ritual regulations in order to show that they were not meant to be fixed and permanent.

It is not sufficiently remembered that the most of God’s people in the Jewish nation had very little to do with this symbolical worship. When they were all in the wilderness, and gathered round the one tent called the tabernacle, they might all see the fiery cloudy pillar; but when they came into the land which God had given them, what had they most of them to see? Why the temple itself the most of them would only see once or twice in a year. Scarcely any one ever saw the ark, the cherubim, or the golden candlestick; they were always within the veil, and only once in the year did the high priest enter that sacred place. Even the place where the sacrifices were carried on continually, no one entered but the priests; so that to at least eleven tribes out of twelve the ceremonials were mainly invisible. Little was done outside the court of the priests, but the most of the sacrifices, and of the typology of Judaism, was as much a hidden thing as the spiritual things of God are to us at the present day; and thus there was a great exercise of the spiritual faculties, and comparatively little of outward display. Moreover, it is to be remembered that there was nothing whatever visible for the Jew to worship. It is not so in the symbology of that false Church which is trying to raise up and revive the beggarly elements; there men bow before a cross; a piece of bread inside a box is reverenced and treated with worship; cast-off clouts and rotten rags, called relics, are the objects of adoration; but there was nothing like this with the Jews, they did worship toward the temple, but they did not adore the temple, or mercy-seat, the altar, or any other emblem. Is it not said expressly, „Ye saw no similitude”? When God descended upon Sinai, and all the people worshipped there, they saw nothing which they dared to worship; God was to them still invisible, and they had to exercise their mental faculties in the worship of the invisible God. When at one time it was thought that the miraculous powers of the brazen serpent entitled it to worship, Hezekiah called it Nehushtan, that is, a piece of brass, and broke it to pieces. So that with all its splendor of imagery, embroidered vest, and glittering breastplate, to a great extent there was a powerful element of spirituality even about Aaronic worship; I mean, of course, only to spiritual men. David himself utterly outstripped the outward, when he declared, „Sacrifice and offering thou dost not desire;” and when he said again, „Thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it thee.” The prophet declares that God is weary of their sacrifices, and in another place the Lord himself says that if we could come before him with rivers of oil, or ten thousand of the fat of fed beasts, he would not accept us with these. To obey is better than sacrifice, is told us even under the law. So that even there, though not so distinctly as now, the spirituality of worship was taught and declared.

But, dear friends, what became of this accommodation of worship to the childhood of the church? You know that very soon after Israel came out of Egypt they said, „Let us make gods that they may go before us.” They could not do without a visible God. Do not think that when they set up the calf they meant to worship the calf instead of Jehovah, that would be a slander upon them; they worshipped Jehovah through the calf—that was their plea, for they said, „Tomorrow is a feast unto Jehovah.” They thought to represent Jehovah by a bull, „they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass.” Though severely rebuked, it was the constant sin of Israel to desire to worship God under the favourite Egyptian emblem of the bull. At last they had so far gone into idolatry that they were driven far away; and in captivity they were so chastened, and moreover brought into such contact with the abominations of idolatry that they were heartily sick of it, and no Jew has been an idolater ever since. Still, spiritual worship they would not offer, and therefore fell into rigid ritualism, reverencing the mere letter of the law, and fighting over trifling refinements of regulation and observance; so that in Christ’s day they made broad their phylacteries and the borders of their garments, but they forgot the Great Spirit who is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth.

Since that day the Lord has been treated by carnal men in one of three ways; either God is adored by outward symbols as among Brahminists, Romanists, Puseyites, and other idolaters; or else he is worshipped through ritualism, as among too many who claim to be orthodox, who contend for pre-arranged, and unbending forms; written or unwritten as the case may be: or else men show an utter indifference to God altogether, and then rush into superstitious reverence for something or other which is evil, and therefore to be dreaded and spoken of with awe. This is the history of religious worship, that let spiritual worship assume what form it may, man always will if he can, get away from it and forget his God and set up something seen, instead of bowing down before the unseen; hence the necessity of the second commandment in the Decalogue, „Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, and so on.” This is not a command against worshipping another God, that is the first commandment, but a command against worshipping God under any shape, or through any medium or under any symbol; for he is a spirit, and must be worshipped in spirit and in truth and not by symbols. Against this command the human mind is always dashing itself, and in one shape or another idolatry is the ruling religion of mankind.

Christ comes to tell us that now his worship is to be wholly spiritual, even the altar which belongs to antediluvian times is gone, for we have an altar of another kind; even the sacrifice which belonged to the early period has departed like a shadow, because we have the sacrifice of Christ in which to trust. As for the institutions which suited the infancy of the church, they also have disappeared, for now Jesus would have the worship of men enlightened by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost; he would have us understand that a perfect revelation demands of us, that in the perfection of our spiritual powers we should adore the invisible God without the interference of visible signs. Now he would have us cast away all outward types and signs, except the two which he has himself ordained, and even these are types of the Savior’s manhood and not of his Godhead at all, to be only valued because of the spiritual communion which they enable our hearts to hold with Jesus; baptism being intended for spiritual men, that they may enter into the Savior’s death and burial, and the Lord’s supper that the same persons may remember his body broken and his blood shed for them; the water, the bread, the wine, being mere emblems, not to be treated with reverence, but put to their proper emblematic use.

II. I shall now, in the second place, try to ACCOUNT FOR THE EXTREME RARITY OF SPIRITUAL WORSHIP. The reason is, my brethren, because man has fallen. If man were what he once was, pure and holy, I cannot conceive of his wanting holy places and crosses, copes, and dalmatics, crosiers, and chasubles. I cannot conceive of the temptation to bow down before a bull, or a Virgin Mary, or a wafer. There the noble creature walks in paradise, and if he reclines beneath a shady tree, he lifts up his eyes and says, „My Father, thou hast made this grateful shade, here I will adore thee;” or if he walks in the full heat of the sun, he says, „My God, it is thy light that shineth on me,—I adore thee.” Up yonder on the mountain’s brow, or down by the gleaming river, or the silvery lake, he needs build no altar, his altar is within himself; be needs make no temple, his temple is everywhere. The morning is holy, and the evening is holy; he hath no prescribed hour of prayer, it is devotion all day long; his morning bath is his baptism; each meal is his Eucharist. Depend upon it, the nearer we get back to the nakedness of worship, the nearer we get to its truth and purity; and it is because man has fallen, that as his body wants clothing, so he is always dressing up his religion.

Moreover, it is far more difficult to worship God in spirit than in form. To patter through a dozen Ave Marias or Paternosters is so easy, that I can nearly go to sleep over them: to repeat a form of prayer in the morning and evening is a very small matter, and one can be thinking of the shop all the while; to go to church or chapel so many times a week is a cheap duty, and withal one may still be a thief or a hypocrite; but it is hard, very hard, to bring the heart down to humble penitence, and the soul to holy meditation. The last thing that most people will do is to think. The noblest part of our nature is still the least exercised. Humbly to tremble before God, to confess sin before him, to believe him, to love him—this is spiritual worship! Because this is so hard, men say, ” No, no, let me crawl on my knees around a shrine! Let me kneel down before a pyx, let me help to make a cope, or to manufacture some pretty piece of millinery for the priest to wear. Let me go every morning to the steeple house and come out in half an hour, and feel I have done my religion.” That is quite easy, but the hard part of religion is the part of spiritual worship.

And yet again, to worship God spiritually men would have to part with their sins. There is no effect produced upon a man’s conscience by his being sprinkled, or by his taking the sacraments, he can do all that and be as much a pleasure-lover, or a worshipper of Mammon, as he was before; but, to worship God spiritually, a man must give up his sins, must overcome his pride and lust, and his evil concupiscence must be cast out of him. Many persons might honestly declare, „I do not mind worshipping God if it consists in doing penance, or going without meat on Fridays; but if I am to give up my sins, love God, seek Christ, trust to him, I cannot attend to that.” Furthermore, man, for the most part, somehow cannot get the idea of this spiritual worship into his brain, Oh the many times I have tried to preach spiritual worship here, and yet I am conscious that when I try at it I do not interest many of you, and some of you think, „if he would only give us more metaphors, more anecdotes, and so on;” I say I will do that, for I believe we should speak by parable, but sometimes I do not know how to clothe these spiritual things without making you look at the clothing rather than the spirit. It is not your worshipping God by words in hymns and prayers, or sitting in a certain place, or covering your faces at certain times that is acceptable to him; true worship lies in your heart paying reverence to him, your soul obeying him, and your inner nature coming into conformity to his own nature, by the work of his Spirit in your soul; and because men can scarcely get the idea of this till the Holy Spirit gives it to them, this is a reason why it is so rare, so exceedingly rare. There is one other reason, dear friends, why spiritual worship is unusual, and that is because man cannot traffic in spiritual religion. The priest is up at arms directly. ” Oh,” saith he, „spiritual! spiritual! why they will do without me one of these days. Spiritual—why, if you tell these people that every place is holy, and that there are no holy places; and that one believer is as much a priest as another, and that prayer is as acceptable at home, as it is in a particular spot, why,” says he, „there is an end of me.” Yes, sir, there is an end of you, and the sooner the better for the world; for of all the curses that have ever fallen upon the human race the priesthood is the worst. Its claims are imposture, and its actions are full of deceit, In the age of witches and ghosts priesthood might be tolerated, but he who now sets himself up as a priest is as much a common nuisance as a fortune-teller. Nothing has been such a nightmare upon the intellect of man; nothing has sat like old Sindbad the Sailor upon the back of humanity, like the pretensions of priesthood. God forbid that Christianity should even for a moment endorse the lie! Christ has put it all down. Christ says, „All ye are brethren,” and he says of the whole body of his elect, „Ye are a royal priesthood.” Concerning all the saints, Scripture declares, „Ye are God’s clergy,” for that is the Greek word in the passage—”Ye are God’s heritage.” We know no clergy and no laity; we know nothing whatever now of priesthood and of the common people, for ye are made priests and kings unto God to offer spiritual sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

III. Turning from that point, a third subject is this, WHY IS SUCH WORSHIP TO BE RENDERED? Why did not God ordain worship by windmills as in Thibet? Why has he not chosen to be worshipped by particular men in purple and fine linen, acting gracefully as in Roman and Anglican churches? Why not? He gives two reasons which ought to suffice. The first is, he himself seeks spiritual worship. It is his own wish that the worship should be spiritual, And in the second place, he is himself a spirit, and is to be spiritually worshipped. Whatever kind of worship the great Ruler desires he ought to receive, and it is impertinence on my part if I say to him, „No, not that, but this.” It is true I may say, „I am very sincere in all this, very earnest in it. It suits my taste. There is a beauty about it; it excites certain emotions which I think to be devotional.” What is all that but saying, „Great God, thou hast chosen such-and-such a way of being worshipped, but I will not render it to thee?” Is not that in effect saying, „I will not worship thee at all;” for must not worship, to be worship, be such as the person worshipped himself will accept? To invent our own forms of worship is to insult God; and every mass that is ever offered upon the Romish altar is an insult to heaven, and a blasphemy to God who is a Spirit. Every time any form of worship by procession, celebration, or ceremonial of man’s invention is offered to God, it is offered in defiance of this word of Christ, and cannot and will not be received; however earnest people may be they have violated the imperative canon of God’s Word; and in fighting for rubrics they have gone against the eternal rubric that God as a Spirit must be worshipped in spirit and in truth.

The second reason given is, that God is a Spirit. If God were material, it might be right to worship him with material substances; if God were like to ourselves, it might be well for us to give a sacrifice congenial to humanity; but being as he is, pure spirit, he must be worshipped in spirit. I like the remark made by Trapp in his commentary on this passage, when he says that perhaps the Savior is even here bringing down God to our comprehension; „for,” saith he, „God is above all notion, all name.” Certainly, this we know, that anything which associates him with the grossness of materialism is infinitely removed from the truth. Said Augustine, „When I am not asked what God is, I think I know, but when I try to answer that question, I find I know nothing.” If the Eternal were such an one as thou art, O man, he might be pleased with thy painted windows. But what a child’s toy must coloured glass be to God! I can sit and gaze upon a cathedral with all its magnificence of architecture, and think what a wonderful exhibition of human skill; but what must that be to God, who piles the heavens, who digs the foundation of the deep, who leads Arcturus with his sons? Why, it must be to him the veriest trifle, a mere heap of stones. I delight to hear the swell of organs, the harmony of sweet voices, the Gregorian chant, but what is this artistic sound to him more than sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal? As a sight, I admire the choristers and priests, and the whole show of a grand ceremonial; but do you believe that God is imposed upon by those frocks and gowns of white, and blue, and scarlet, and fine linen? It seems to me as if such a notion brings down God to the level of a silly woman who is fond of finery. The infinite God, who spreads out the heavens and scatters stars with both his hands, whom heaven and earth cannot contain, to whom space is but a speck, and time is as nothing, do you think that he dwelleth in temples made with hands, that is to say, of man’s building? And is he to be worshipped with your organs, and your roodscreens, and your gaudy millinery? He laugheth at them, he treadeth on them as being less than nothing and vanity. Spiritual worship is what he regardeth, because he is a Spirit. My brethren, if you could get together a procession of worlds, if you could make the stars walk along the streets of some great new Jerusalem, dressed in their brightest array; if instead of the songs of a few boys or men you could catch the sonnets of eternal ages; if instead of a few men to officiate as priests you could enlist time, eternity, heaven and earth to be the priesthood, yet all this would be to him but as a company of grasshoppers, and he would take up the whole as a very little thing. But let me tell you that even God himself, great as he is, does not despise the tear that drops from a repentant eye, nor does he neglect the sigh that comes from a sinner’s soul. He thinks more of your repentance than of your incense, and more of your prayers than of your priesthoods. He views with pleasure your love and your faith, for these are spiritual things in which he can take delight; but your architecture, your music and your fine arts, though they lavish their treasures at his feet, are less than nothing and vanity. Ye know not what spirit ye are of. If ye think to worship my God with all these inventions of man, ye dream like fools. I feel glowing within me the old iconoclastic spirit. Would God we had men now like Knox or Luther, who with holy indignation would pull in pieces those wicked mockeries of the Most High, against which our soul feels a hallowed indignation as we think of his loftiness, and of that poor paltry stuff with which men degrade his name.

IV. WHAT THEN? What is the practical drift of this? Why two things.

The first is, my dear brothers and sisters, I mean you who have learned to worship God in spirit and in truth, who have got above the beggarly elements of the outward, and can worship him in spirit and in truth, what then? Why, in the first place, let us be particularly jealous of anything which looks at all like going back to ceremonialism. As a matter of taste I have a great liking for noble architecture. Many an hour have I lingered in the ruins of some splendid abbey or our own majestic buildings still used for sacred worship. I have a great delight in a well-painted window. I cannot say that I like most Dissenting painted windows, because they look to me as if they were a sort of would be if you could. I cannot say I have any kind of liking for most of our Dissenting Gothic, for it seems to me such a paltry thing to build a front just like St. Paul’s or Westminster Abbey, and then as if to cheat the Lord to make the back part shabby. I cannot say I care for that kind of thing. But a really splendid place of worship I admire, as a matter of taste. I like an organ very well, as a matter of musical taste. But, my brethren, I feel that these are times when we must stand out even against allowable things, lest going one step we should go another. I do pray you therefore if you have any influence anywhere always use it in favor of simplicity, and if you see at any time in the churches of which you are the members a tendency to creep on to something a little nearer, a little towards the way of Rome, cry „Halt!” Let us rather go back to the barns in which our fathers worshipped, or better still to the hill side, and to the green sward than go forward to anything like symbolism, which will tempt the soul away from spiritual worship. We ought ourselves to guard against falling into formalism by means of simplicity, for we may do it the one way as well as the other, by laying it down as a rule that a service must begin with prayer or begin with singing, that the preacher must preach at such a time in the service, that the service must commence, continue, and conclude in some fixed fashion; that seems to me to have a tendency to breed another form of ritualism inconsistent with worshipping God in spirit and in truth. I am afraid I have hardly grace enough to worship God by two or three hours together in silence as our Quaker friends do. I do enjoy a quarter of an hour’s silence every now and then; to sit quite still seems to me to be an admirable way of getting into contact with God. Our service is so much words, words, words, that I am almost afraid you get to think as much of words as other people do of banners, and flags, and so on. Now, to sit still, to get might away from words, if so your heart keeps to God, is better even than preaching and singing. Juan De Yaldes, a Catholic, but a good Protestant for all that, remarks that the vulgar in seeking to remember Christ by the crucifix do not exercise their mind but stop at the crucifix, and therefore that which was intended to be a help becomes a hindrance; so the learned get their bibles which should help them to think upon divine things, but being content with having read the letter of Scripture they often fail to reach the spiritual truth which it containeth, and so after all do not worship God. Remember that while we should be jealous of anything which would make it easy to be formal of worship which might be adopted, yet we may still after all have missed the main thing, the worshipping of God in spirit and in truth.

Let us make it a matter of heart-searching as to whether we ourselves have been in the habit of worshipping the Father in spirit and in truth. Dear friends, I am jealous of some of you that you do not do this. If the preacher happens to be away you do not feel in so good a frame; somebody else takes my place, and there are certain feeble folk among you who feel as if the sabbath had lost its enjoyment. But God is here, and you might worship God as much surely without me as with me; and though the instruction received from one man may not seem so edifying as that which may come from another, and possibly may not be so, yet still if your object be the worship of God, which should be the main object of our gathering, surely you should do that as well under the ministry of Mr. A. as Mr. B. I am afraid too that many of you are content with singing through the hymn; now all that singing which is not thought-singing is of no use; you may have very sweet voices but God does not regard your voice, he hears your heart, and if your heart does not sing you have not sung at all. When we stand up to pray it may be that the preacher’s words may happen to be suitable to your case, but it is not prayer so far as you are concerned, though it may be as far as he is, unless you join in it. Recollect that if you do not put your hearts into the worship of God, you might for that matter as well be at home as here; you are better here than at home for other reasons, because you are in the way where good may come to you; but for worship’s sake you might as well have been in bed as here. You who have no spiritual worship may even clog the devotions of those who have; an invisible savor of death unto death may be stealing from you, helping to pollute or to render dead the worship of those who truly adore God. At any rate, my dear hearers, if you have not with your whole hearts loved and worshipped God, repent over it, and pray the Holy Ghost to make you spiritual. Go to Christ’s cross, and trust in him; then, and not till then, will you be capable of adoring the most High God in a style in which he can accept your worship. God grant that this may be impressed upon the hearts of all of us, that we may worship God in spirit and in truth.

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Secret Sins (Turn… or Burn) – preached by Spurgeon, read or listen to the audio-sermon

Published on Jun 25, 2012 by 

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Psalm 19:12 King James Version (KJV) Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.

C H Spurgeon preached this message on Feb 8th, 1857 in the Music Hall of the Royal Surrey Gardens. It is entitled „Secret Sins” and the text is found in Psalm 19:12  (KJV) Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.

Self righteousness arises partly from pride, but mainly from ignorance of God’s law. It is because men know little or nothing concerning the terrible character of the divine law that they imagine themselves to be righteous. They are not aware of the deep spirituality, and the stern severity of the law, or they would have other and wiser notions. Once let them know how strictly the law deals with the thoughts, how it brings itself to bear upon every emotion of the inner man, and there is not one creature beneath God’s heaven who would dare to think himself righteous in God’s sight in virtue of his own deeds and thoughts. Only let the law be revealed to a man; let him know how strict the law is, and how infinitely just, and his self-righteousness will shrivel into nothing—it will become a filthy rag in his sight, whereas before he thought it to be a goodly garment.

Now, David, having seen God’s law, and having praised it in this Psalm, which I have read in your hearing, he is brought, by reflecting on its excellency, to utter this thought, „Who can understand his errors?” and then to offer this prayer, „Cleanse thou me from secret faults.”

In the Lateran Council of the Church of Rome, a decree was passed that every true believer must confess his sins, all of them, once a year to the priest, and they affixed to it this declaration, that there is no hope of pardon but in complying with that decree. What can equal the absurdity of such a decree as that? Do they suppose that they can tell their sins as easily as they can count their fingers? Why, if we could receive pardon for all our sins by telling every sin we have committed in one hour, there is not one of us who would be able to enter heaven, since, besides the sins that are known to us and that we may be able to confess, there are a vast mass of sins, which are as truly sins as those which we do observe, but which are secret, and come not beneath our eye. Oh! if we had eyes like those of God, we should think very differently of ourselves. The sins that we see and confess are but like the farmer’s small samples which he brings to market, when he has left his granary full at home. We have but a very few sins which we can observe and detect, compared with those which are hidden to ourselves and unseen by our fellow creatures. I doubt not it is true of all of us who are here, that in every hour of our existence in which we are active, we commit tens of thousands of unholinesses for which conscience has never reproved us, because we have never seen them to be wrong, seeing we have not studied God’s laws as we ought to have done. Now, be it known to us all that sin is sin, whether we see it or not—that a sin secret to us is a sin as truly as if we knew it to be a sin, though not so great a sin in the sight of God as if it had been committed presumptuously, seeing that it lacks the aggravation of willfulness. Let all of us who know our sins, offer this prayer after all our confessions: „Lord, I have confessed as many as I know, but I must add an etcetera after them, and say, ‘Cleanse thou me from secret faults.'”

That, however, will not be the pith of my sermon this morning. I am going after a certain class of men who have sins not unknown to themselves, but secret to their fellow creatures. Every now and then we turn up a fair stone which lies upon the green sward of the professing church, surrounded with the verdure of apparent goodness, and to our astonishment we find beneath it all kinds of filthy insects and loathsome reptiles, and in our disgust as such hypocrisy, we are driven to exclaim, „All men are liars; there are none in whom we can put any trust at all.” It is not fair to say so of all; but really, the discoveries which are made of the insincerity of our fellow-creatures are enough to make us despise our kind, because they can go so far in appearances, and yet have so little soundness of heart. To you, sirs, who sin secretly, and yet make a profession; you break God’s covenants in the dark and wear a mask of goodness in the light—to you, sirs, who shut the doors and commit wickedness in secret—to you I shall speak this morning. O may God also be pleased to speak to you, and make you pray this prayer: „Cleanse thou me from secret faults.”

I shall endeavour to urge upon all pretenders present to give up, to renounce, to detest, to hate, to abhor all their secret sins. And, first, I shall endeavour to show the folly of secret sins; secondly, the misery of secret sins; thirdly, the guilt of secret sins; fourthly, the danger of secret sins; and then I shall try to apply some words by way of remedy, that we may all of us be enabled to avoid secret sins.

I. First, then, THE FOLLY OF SECRET SINS.

Pretender, thou art fair to look upon; thy conduct outwardly upright, amiable, liberal, generous and Christian; but thou dost indulge in some sin which the eye of man has not yet detected. Perhaps it is private drunkenness. Thou dost revile the drunkard when he staggers through the street; but thou canst thyself indulge in the same habit in private. It may be some other lust or vice; it is not for me just now to mention what it is. But, pretender, we say unto thee, thou art a fool to think of harbouring a secret sin; and thou art a fool for this one reason, that thy sin is not a secret sin; it is known, and shall one day be revealed; perhaps very soon. Thy sin is not a secret; the eye of God hath seen it; thou hast sinned before his face. Thou hast shut-to the door, and drawn the curtains, and kept out the eye of the sun, but God’s eye pierceth through the darkness; the brick walls which surrounded thee were as transparent as glass to the eye of the Almighty; the darkness which did gird thee was as bright as the summer’s noon to the eye of him who beholdeth all things. Knowest thou not, O man, that „all things are naked and open to the eyes of him with whom we have to do?” As the priest ran his knife into the entrails of his victim, discovered the heart and liver, and what else did lie within, so art thou, O man, seen by God, cut open by the Almighty; thou hast no secret chamber where thou canst hide thyself; thou hast no dark cellar where thou canst conceal thy soul. Dig deep, ay, deep as hell, but thou canst not find earth enough upon the globe to cover thy sin; if thou shouldst heap the mountains on its grave, those mountains would tell the tale of what was buried in their bowels. If thou couldst cast thy sin into the sea, a thousand babbling waves would tell the secret out. There is no hiding it from God. Thy sin is photographed in high heaven; the deed when it was done was photographed upon the sky, and there it shall remain, and thou shalt see thyself one day revealed to the gazing eyes of all men, a hypocrite, a pretender, who didst sin in fancied secret, observed in all thine acts by the all-seeing Jehovah. O what fools men are, to think they can do anything in secret. This world is like the glass hives wherein bees sometimes work: we look down upon them, and we see all the operations of the little creatures. So God looketh down and seeth all. Our eyes are weak; we cannot look through the darkness; but his eye, like an orb of fire, penetrateth the blackness; and readeth the thoughts of man, and seeth his acts when he thinks himself most concealed. Oh; it were a thought enough to curb us from all sin, if it were truly applied to us—”Thou, God, seest me!” Stop thief! Drop thou that which thou hast taken to thyself. God seeth thee! No eye of detection on earth hath discovered thee, but God’s eyes are now looking through the clouds upon thee. Swearer! scarce any for whom thou carest heard thy oath; but God heard it; it entered into the ears of the Lord God of Sabbaoth. Ah! thou who leadest a filthy life, and yet art a respectable merchant bearing among men a fair and goodly character; thy vices are all known; written in God’s book. He keepeth a diary of all thine acts; and what wilt thou think on that day when a crowd shall be assembled, compared with which this immense multitude is but a drop of a bucket, and God shall read out the story of thy secret life, and men and angels shall hear it. Certain I am there are none of us who would like to have all our secrets read, especially our secret thoughts. If I should select out of this congregation the most holy man, should bring him forward and say, „Now, sir, I know all your thoughts, and am about to tell them,” I am sure he would offer me the largest bribe that he could gather if I would be pleased to conceal at least some of them. „Tell,” He would say, „of my acts; of them I am not ashamed; but do not tell my thoughts and imaginations—of them I must ever stand ashamed before God.” What, then, sinner, will be thy shame when thy privy lusts, thy closet transgressions, thy secret crimes shall be gazetted from God’s throne, published by his own mouth, and with a voice louder than a thousand thunders preached in the ears of an assembled world? What will be thy terror and confusion then, when all the deeds thou hast done shall be published in the face of the sun, in the ears of all mankind. O renounce the foolish hope of secresy, for thy sin is this day recorded, and shall one day be advertised upon the walls of heaven.

II. In the next place, let us notice THE MISERY OF SECRET SINS.

Of all sinners the man who makes a profession of religion, and yet lives in iniquity, is the most miserable. A downright wicked man, who takes a glass in his hand, and says, „I am a drunkard, I am not ashamed of it,” he shall be unutterably miserable in worlds to come, but brief though it be, he has his hour of pleasure. A man who curses and swears, and says, „That is my habit, I am a profane man,” and makes a profession of it, he has, at least, some peace in his soul; but the man who walks with God’s minister, who is united with God’s Church, who comes out before God’s people, and unites with them, and then lives in sin, what a miserable existence he must have of it! Why, he has a worse existence than the mouse that is in the parlour, running out now and then to pick up the crumbs, and then back again to his hole. Such men must run out now and then to sin; and oh! how fearful they are to be discovered! One day, perhaps, their character turns up; with wonderful cunning they manage to conceal and gloss it over; but the next day something else comes, and they live in constant fear, telling lie after lie, to make the last lie appear truthful, adding deception to deception, in order that they may not be discovered.

„Oh! ‘tis a tangled web we weave,
When once we venture to deceive.”
If I must be a wicked man, give me the life of a roystering sinner, who sins before the face of day; but, if I must sin, let me not act as a hypocrite and a coward; let me not profess to be God’s, and spend my life for the devil. That way of cheating the devil is a thing which every honest sinner will be ashamed of. He will say, „Now, if I do serve my master I will serve him out and out, I will have no sham about it; if I make a profession, I will carry it out; but if I do not, if I live in sin, I am not going to gloss it over by cant and hypocrisy.” One thing which has hamstringed the church, and cut her very sinews in twain, has been this most damnable hypocrisy. Oh! in how many places have we men whom you might praise to the very skies, if you could believe their words, but whom you might cast into the nethermost pit if you could see their secret actions. God forgive any of you who are so acting! I had almost said, I can scarce forgive you. I can forgive the man who riots openly, and makes no profession of being better, but the man who fawns, and cants, and pretends, and prays, and then lives in sin, that man I hate, I cannot bear him, I abhor him from my very soul. If he will turn from his ways, I will love him, but in his hypocrisy he is to me the most loathsome of all creatures. ‘Tis said the toad doth wear a jewel in her head, but this man hath none, but beareth filthiness about him, while he pretends to be in love with righteousness. A mere profession, my hearers, is but painted pageantry to go to hell in; it is like the plumes upon the hearse and the trappings upon the black horses which drag men to their graves, the funeral array of dead souls. Take heed above everything of a waxen profession that will not stand the sun; take care of a life that needs to have two faces to carry it out; be one thing, or else the other. If you make up your mind to serve Satan, do not pretend to serve God; and if you serve God, serve him with all your heart. „No man can serve two masters;” do not try it, do not endeavour to do it, for no life will be more miserable than that. Above all, beware of committing acts which it will be necessary to conceal. There is a singular poem by Hood, called „The Dream of Eugene Aram”—a most remarkable piece it is indeed, illustrating the point on which I am now dwelling. Aram has murdered a man and cast his body into the river—”a sluggish water, black as ink, the depth was so extreme.” The next morning he visited the scene of his guilt:

„And sought the black accursed pool,
With a wild misgiving eye;
And he saw the dead in the river bed,
For the faithless stream was dry.”
Next he covered the corpse with heaps of leaves, but a mighty wind swept through the wood and left the secret bare before the sun:

„Then down I cast me on my face,
And first began to weep,
For I knew my secret then was one
The earth refused to keep;
On land or sea though it should be
Ten thousand fathoms deep.”
In plaintive notes he prophesies his own discovery. He buried his victim in a cave, and trod him down with stones, but when years had run their weary round the foul deed was discovered and the murderer put to death.
Guilt is a „grim chamberlain,” even when his fingers are not bloody red. Secret sins bring fevered eyes and sleepless nights, until men burn out their consciences, and become in very deed ripe for the pit. Hypocrisy is a hard game to play at, for it is one deceiver against many observers; and for certain it is a miserable trade, which will earn at last, as its certain climax, a tremendous bankruptcy. Ah! ye who have sinned without discovery, „Be sure your sin will find you out;” and bethink you, it may find you out ere long. Sin, like murder, will come out; men will even tell tales about themselves in their dreams. God has sometimes made men so pricked in their consciences that they have been obliged to stand forth and confess the story. Secret sinner! If thou wantest the foretaste of damnation upon earth, continue in thy secret sins; for no man is more miserable than he who sinneth secretly, and yet trieth to preserve a character. Yon stag, followed by the hungry hounds, with open mouths, is far more happy than the man who is followed by his sins. Yon bird, taken in the fowler’s net, and labouring to escape, is far more happy than he who hath weaved around himself a web of deception, and labours to escape from it day by day by making the toils more thick and the web more strong. Oh! the misery of secret sins! Truly, one may pray, „Cleanse thou me from secret faults.”

III. But now, next, the guilt THE SOLEMN GUILT OF SECRET SIN.

Now, John, you do not think there is any evil in a thing unless somebody sees it, do you? You feel that it is a very great sin if your master finds you out in robbing the till—but there is no sin if he should not discover it—none at all. And you, sir, you fancy it to be very great sin to play a trick in trade, in case you should be discovered and brought before the court; but to play a trick and never be discovered, that is all fair—do not say a word about it Mr. Spurgeon, it is all business; you must not touch business; tricks that are not discovered, of course you are not to find fault with them. The common measure of sin is the notoriety of it. But I do not believe in that. A sin is a sin, whether done in private or before the wide world. It is singular how men will measure guilt. A railway servant puts up a wrong signal, there is an accident; the man is tried, and severely reprimanded. The day before he put up the wrong signal, but there was no accident, and therefore no one accused him for his neglect. But it was just the same, accident or no accident, the accident did not make the guilt, it was the deed which made the guilt, not the notoriety nor yet the consequence of it. It was his business to have taken care; and he was as guilty the first time as he was the second, for he negligently exposed the lives of men. Do not measure sin by what other people say of it; but measure sin by what God says of it, and what your own conscience says of it.

Now, I hold that secret sin, if anything, is the worst of sin; because secret sin implies that the man who commits it has Atheism in his heart. You will ask how that can be. I reply, he may be a professing Christian, but I shall tell him to his face that he is a practical Atheist, if he labours to keep up a respectable profession before man, and then secretly transgresses. Why, is he not an Atheist, who will say there is a God, yet at the same time thinks more of man than he does of God? Is it not the very essence of Atheism—is it not a denial of the divinity of the Most High when men lightly esteem him and think more of the eye of a creature than of the observation of their Creator? There are some who would not for the life of them say a wicked word in the presence of their minister, but they can do it, knowing God is looking at them. They are Atheists. There are some who would not trick in trade for all the world if they thought they would be discovered, but they can do it while God is with them; that is, they think more of the eye of man than of the eye of God; and they think it worse to be condemned by man than to be condemned by God. Call it by what name you will, the proper name of that is practical Atheism. It is dishonoring God; it is dethroning him; putting him down below his own creatures; and what is that, but to take away his divinity? Brethren, do not, I beseech you, incur the fearful guilt of secret sins. No man can sin a little in secret, it will certainly engender more sin; no man can be a hypocrite and yet be moderate in guilt; he will go from bad to worse, and still proceed, until when his guilt shall be published, he shall be found to be the very worst and most hardened of men. Take heed of the guilt of secret sin. AH, now if could I preach as Rowland Hill did, I would make some people look to themselves at home, and tremble too! It is said that when he preached, there was not a man in the window, or standing in the crowd, or perched up anywhere, but said, „There, he is preaching at me; he is telling me about my secret sins.” And when he proclaimed God’s omniscience, it is said men would almost think they saw God bodily present in the midst of them looking at them. And when he had done his sermon, they would hear a voice in their ears, „Can any hide himself in secret places that I cannot see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.” I would I could do that; that I could make every man look to himself, and find out his secret sin. Come my hearer, what is it? Bring it forth to the daylight; perhaps it will die in the light of the sun. These things love not to be discovered. Tell thine own conscience, now, what it is. Look it in the face; confess it before God, and may he give thee grace to remove that sin and every other, and turn to him with full purpose of heart! But this know—that thy guilt is guilt discovered or undiscovered, and that if there be any difference it is worse, because it has been secret. God save us from the guilt of secret sin! „Cleanse thou me from secret faults.”

IV. And note, next, THE DANGER OF SECRET SIN.

One danger is, that a man cannot commit a little sin in secret, without being by-and-by betrayed into a public sin. You cannot, sir, though you may think you can preserve a moderation in sin. If you commit one sin, it is like the melting of the lower glacier upon the Alps; the others must follow in time. As certainly as you heap one stone upon the cairn to-day, the next day you will cast another, until the heap, reared stone by stone, shall become a very pyramid. See the coral insect at work, you cannot decree where it shall stay its work. It will not build its rock just as high as you please, it will not stay until it shall be covered with weeds, until the weeds shall decay; and there shall be soil upon it, and an island shall be created by tiny creatures. Sin cannot be held in with bit and bridle. „But I am going to have a little drink now and then, I am only going to be intoxicated once a week or so. Nobody will see it; I shall be in bed directly.” You will be drunk in the streets soon. „I am only just going to read one lascivious book; I will put it under the sofa-cover when any one comes in.” You will keep it in your library yet, sir. „I am only going into that company now and then.” You will go there every day, such is the bewitching character of it; you cannot help it. You may as well ask the lion to let you put your head into his mouth. You cannot regulate his jaws: neither can you regulate sin. Once go into it, you cannot tell when you will be destroyed. You may be such a fortunate individual, that like Van Amburgh you may put your head in and out a great many times; reset assured that one of these days it will be a costly venture. Again, you may labour to conceal your vicious habit, but it will come out, you cannot help it. You keep your little pet sin at home; but mark this, when the door is ajar the dog will be out in the street. Wrap him up in your bosom, put over him fold after fold of hypocrisy to keep him secret, the wretch will be singing some day when you are in company; you cannot keep the evil bird still. Your sin will gad abroad; and what is more, you will not mind it some of these days. A man who indulges in sin privately, by degrees gets his forehead as hard as brass. The first time he sinned, the drops of sweat stood on his brow at the recollection of what he had done; the second time, no hot sweat on his brow, only an agitation of the muscle; the third time there was the sly, sneaky look, but no agitation; the next time, he sinned a little further; and by degrees he became the bold blasphemer of his God, who exclaimed, „Who am I that I should fear Jehovah, and who is he that I should serve him?” Men go from bad to worse. Launch your boat in the current—it must go where the current takes it. Put yourself in the whirlwind—you are but a straw in the wind: you must go which way the wind carries you—you cannot control yourself. The balloon can mount, but it cannot direct its course; it must go whichever way the wind blows. If you once mount into sin there is no stopping. Take heed if you would not become the worst of characters, take heed of the little sins, they, mounting one upon another, may at last heave you from the summit and destroy your soul for ever. There is a great danger in secret sins.

But I have here some true Christians who indulge in secret sins. They say it is but a little one, and therefore do they spare it. Dear brethren, I speak to you, and I speak to myself, when I say this—let us destroy all our little secret sins. They are called little and if they be, let us remember that it is the foxes, even the little foxes, that spoil our vines; for our vines have tender shoots. Let us take heed of our little sins. A little sin, like a little pebble in the shoe, will make a traveller to heaven walk very wearily. Little sins, like little thieves, may open the door to greater ones outside. Christians, recollect that little sins will spoil your communion with Christ. Little sins, like little stains in silk, may damage the fine texture of fellowship; little sins, like little irregularities in the machinery, may spoil the whole fabric of your religion. The one dead fly spoileth the whole pot of ointment. That one thistle may seed a continent with noxious weeds. Let us, brethren, kill our sins as often as we can find them. One said—”The heart is full of unclean birds; it is a cage of them.” „Ah, but,” said another divine, „you must not make that an apology, for a Christian’s business is to wring their necks.” And so it is; if there be evil things, it is our business to kill them. Christians must not tolerate secret sins. We must not harbour traitors; it is high treason against the King of Heaven. Let us drag them out to light, and offer them upon the altar, giving up the dearest of our secret sins at the will and bidding of God. There is a great danger in a little secret sin; therefore avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it and shun it; and God give thee grace to overcome it!

V. And now I come, in finishing up, to plead with all my might with some of you whom God has pricked in your consciences. I have come to intreat you, if it be possible, even to tears, that you will give up your secret sins. I have one here for whom I bless God; I love him, though I know him not. He is almost persuaded to be a Christian; he halteth between two opinions; he intendeth to serve God, he striveth to give up sin, but he findeth it a hard struggle, and as yet he knoweth not what shall become of him. I speak to him with all love: my friend, will you have your sin and go to hell, or leave your sin and go to heaven? This is the solemn alternative: to all awakened sinners I put it; may God choose for you, otherwise I tremble as to which you may choose. The pleasures of this life are so intoxicating, the joys of it so ensnaring, that did I not believe that God worketh in us to will and to do, I should despair of you. But I have confidence that God will decide the matter. Let me lay the alternative before you:—on the one hand there is a hour’s merriment, a short life of bliss, and that a poor, poor bliss; on the other hand, there is everlasting life and eternal glory. On the one hand, there is a transient happiness, and afterwards overwhelming woe; in this case there is a solid peace and everlasting joy, and after it overflowing bliss. I shall not fear to be called an Arminian, when I say, as Elijah did, „Choose you this day whom you will serve. If God be God, serve him; if Baal be God serve him.” But, now, make your choice deliberately; and may God help you to do it! Do not say you will take up with religion, without first counting the cost of it; remember, there is your lust to be given up, your pleasure to be renounced; can you do it for Christ’s sake? Can you? I know you cannot, unless God’s grace shall assist you in making such a choice. But can you say, „Yes, by the help of God, earth’s gaudy toys, its pomps, pageantries, gewgaws, all these I renounce?—

„These can never satisfy,
Give me Christ or else I die.”
Sinner, thou wilt never regret that choice, if God help thee to make it; thou wilt find thyself a happy man here, and thrice happy throughout eternity.

„But,” says one, „Sir, I intend to be religious, but I do not hold with your strictness.” I do not ask you to do so; I hope, however, you will hold withGod’s strictness, and God’s strictness is ten thousand times greater than mine. You may say that I am puritanical in my preaching; God will be puritanical in judging in that great day. I may appear severe, but I can never be so severe as God will be. I may draw the harrow with sharp teeth across your conscience, but God shall drag harrows of eternal fire across you one day. I may speak thundering things! God will not speak them, but hurl them from his hands. Remember, men may laugh at hell, and say there is none; but they must reject their Bibles before they can believe the lie. Men’s consciences tell them that

„There is a dreadful hell,
And everlasting pains;
Where sinners must with devils dwell,
In darkness, fire and chains.”

photo source http://www.shimmerzineff.webs.com

Sirs, will ye keep your secret sins, and have eternal fire for them? Remember it is of no use, they must all be given up, or else you cannot be God’s child. You cannot by any means have both; it cannot be God and the world, it cannot be Christ and the devil; it must be one or the other. Oh! that God would give you grace to resign all; for what are they worth? They are your deceivers now, and will be your tormentors for ever. Oh! that your eyes were open to see the rottenness, the emptiness and trickery of iniquity. Oh! that God would turn you to himself. Oh! may God give you grace to cross the Rubicon of repentance at this very hour; to say, „Henceforth it is war to the knife with my sins; not one of them will I willingly keep, but down with them, down with them; Canaanite, Hittite, Jebusite, they shall all be driven out.”

„The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be;
Help me to tear it from its throne,
And worship only thee.”
„But oh! sir, I cannot do it; it would be like pulling my eyes out.” Ay, but hear what Christ says: „It were better for thee to enter into life with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.” „But it would be like cutting my arms off.” Ay, and it would be better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, than to be cast into hell fire for ever. Oh! when the sinner comes before God at last, do you think he will speak as he does now? God will reveal his secret sins: the sinner will not then say, „Lord, I thought my secret sins so sweet, I could not give them up.” I think I see how changed it will be then. „Sir” you say now, „you are too strict;” will you say that when the eyes of the Almighty are glowering on you? You say now, „Sir, you are too precise;” will you say that to God Almighty’s face? „Sir, I mean to keep such-and-such a sin.” Can you say it at God’s bar at last? You will not dare to do it then. Ah! when Christ comes a second time, there will be a marvellous change in the way men talk. Methinks I see him; there he sits upon his throne. Now, Caiaphas, come and condemn him now! Judas! comes and kiss him now! What do you stick at, man? Are you afraid of him? Now, Barrabbas! go; see whether they will prefer you to Christ now. Swearer, now is your time; you have been a bold man; curse him to his face now. Now drunkard; stagger up to him now. Now infidel; tell him there is no Christ now—now that the world is lit with lightning and the earth is shaken with thunder till the solid pillars thereof do bow themselves—tell God there is no God now; now laugh at the Bible; now scoff at the minister. Why men, what is the matter with you? Why, can’t you do it? Ah! there you are; you have fled to the hills and to the rocks—”Rocks hide us! mountains fall on us; hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne.” Ah! where are now your boasts, your vauntings, and your glories? Alas! alas! for you, in that dread day of wonders.

Secret sinner, what will then become of thee? Go out of this place unmasked; go out to examine thyself, go out to bend thy knee, go out to weep, go out to pray. God give thee grace to believe! And oh, how sweet and pleasant the thought, that this day sinners have fled to Christ, and men have been born again to Jesus! Brethren, ere I finish, I repeat the words at which so many have cavilled—it is now, or never, it is turn or burn. Solemnly in God’s sight I say it; if it be not God’s truth I must answer for it in the great day of account. Your consciences tell you it is true. Take it home, and mock me if you will; this morning I am clear of your blood: if any seek not God, but live in sin, I shall be clear of your blood in that day when the watchman shall have your souls demanded of him; oh, may God grant that you may be cleared in a blessed manner! When I went down those pulpit stairs a Sabbath or two ago, a friend said to me words which have been in my mind ever since—”Sir, there are nine thousand people this day without excuse in the day of judgment.” It is true of you this morning. If you are damned, it will be not for want of preaching to you, and it shall not be for want of praying for you. God knoweth that if my heart could break of itself, it would, for your souls, for God is my witness, how earnestly I long for you in the bowels of Christ Jesus. Oh, that he might touch your hearts and bring you to him! For death is a solemn thing, damnation is a horrible thing, to be out of Christ is a dreadful thing, to be dead in sin is a terrific thing. May God lead you to view these things as they are, and save you, for his mercy’s sake! „He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved.”

„Lord, search my soul, try every thought;
Though my own heart accuse me not
Of walking in a false disguise,
I beg the trial of thine eyes.Doth secret mischief lurk within?
Do I indulge some unknown sin?
O turn my feet whene’er I stray,
And lead me in thy perfect way.”

Short Biography:


Charles Haddon (C.H.) Spurgeon (June 19, 1834 January 31, 1892) was a British Reformed Baptist preacher who remains highly influential among Christians of different denominations, among whom he is still known as the „Prince of Preachers.” In his lifetime, Spurgeon preached to around 10,000,000 people, often up to 10 times a week at different places. His sermons have been translated into many languages. Spurgeon was the pastor of the New Park Street Chapel in London for 38 years. In 1857, he started a charity organization called Spurgeon’s which now works globally. He also founded Spurgeon’s College, which was named after him after his death.

Spurgeon was a prolific author of many types of works including sermons, an autobiography, a commentary, books on prayer, a devotional, a magazine, and more. Many sermons were transcribed as he spoke and were translated into many languages during his lifetime. Arguably, no other author, Christian or otherwise, has more material in print than C.H. Spurgeon.

The Modernist Preacher – Entering Hell By Oscar C. Eliason, c1960

Read another poem and Eliason’s life story in a previous post here

The Modernist Preacher-Entering Hell

by Oscar C. Eliason

He was an ordained minister, but modern in his views.
He preached his twisted doctrines to people in the pews.
He would not hurt their feelings, whate’er the cost would be,
But for their smiles and friendship and compliments sought he.
His church was filled with wicked souls that should be saved from sin,
But never once he showed the way or tried a soul to win.
He preached about the lovely birds that twitter in the trees,
The babl’ing of the running brooks, the murm’ring of the seas.

He quoted fancy poetry that tickled list’ning ears
When sorrow came to some, he tried to laugh away their tears.
His smooth and slipp’ry sermons made the people slide to hell.
The harm he did by preaching goes beyond what we can tell.
He took our Holy Bible, and preached it full of holes,
The Virgin Birth, said he can’t be believed by honest souls,
The miracles of Jesus and the resurrection tale
For educated ones like us, today, cannot avail.
We’re living in an age, said he, when wisdom rules and reigns,
When man’s intelligence is great and superstition wanes.

He said, we’re all God’s children who live upon this earth,
No message of salvation, no need of second birth.
His coat was bought with money that he had wrongly gained,
For through his twisted sermons his wealth he had obtained.
He was just like the Roman soldiers that watched at Jesus’ grave,
For money in abundance, to them, the people gave;
It all was theirs by telling what was a sinful lie –
A resurrected Savior, they, too, were to deny.

The day at last had come for the minister to die,
When to his congregation, he had to say good-bye.
His form lay cold and lifeless, his ministry was past,
His tongue with all its poison was hushed and stilled at last.
His funeral was grand; he was lauded to the skies-
They preached him into heaven where there are no good-byes.
Upon the lonely hill, underneath the shady trees,
His form was laid to rest in the whisp’ring of the breeze.

A tombstone was erected with words: „He is at rest,
He’s gone to heaven’s glories to live among the blest.”
His body now is lifeless, but Ah! His soul lives on,
He failed to enter in where they thought that he had gone.
The letters on the tombstone or that sermon some had heard,
Could not decide his destiny, ‘twas not the final word.
He still had God to deal with, the one who knows the heart;
While others entered heaven, he heard the word, „Depart.”

He pauses for a moment upon the brink of hell;
He stares into a depth where he evermore will dwell.
He hears the cries and groanings of souls he had misled,
He recognizes faces among the screaming dead.
He sees departed deacons which he had highly praised.
Their fingers pointing at him as they their voices raised:
„You stood behind the pulpit, and lived in awful sin,
We took you for a saint, but a liar you have been.”
Accusing cries! He hears them, „Ah! You have been to blame,
You led us into darkness when you were seeking fame.”

„You preached your deadly doctrine, we thought you knew the way.
We fed you and we clothed you, we even raised your pay.
You’ve robbed us of a home where no tear-drops ever flow,
Where days are always fair and the heav’nly breezes blow.
Where living streams are flowing, and saints and Angels sing,
Where every one is happy, and Hallelujahs ring.
We’re in this place of torment, from which no soul returns;
We hear the cry of lost ones, we feel the sizzling burns;
Give us a drop of water, we’re tortured in this flame;
You failed to preach salvation to us through Jesus’ Name.”

The preacher turns in horror, he tries to leave the scene,
He knows the awful future for every soul unclean,
But there he meets the devil, whom he has served so well,
He feels the demon powers as they drag him into hell.
Throughout eternal ages, his groans, too, must be heard-
He, too, must suffer torment-he failed to heed God’s Word.
He feels God’s wrath upon him, he hears the hot flames roar,
His doctrine now is different, he ridicules no more.

By Oscar C. Eliason, c1960

John Piper – Why we don’t experience the miracles the apostles were capable of

John Piper (theologian)

John Piper (theologian) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Desiring God via the Christian Post

Why don’t we experience the miracles that the apostles were capable of?

Well, some people do.

The assumption is, „Why don’t we see it”—I guess—”regularly, as often as we’d like, or as often as they did?” And that’s true, I think. I think that’s true globally.

But the reason I say, „Boy, I don’t want to go there right away,” is that I would guess that, around the world, in God’s total working—especially in cutting-edge mission settings—more amazing, supernatural things are happening than we realize. That’s my first qualification.

I think the more biblical-theological answer is that, when Jesus Christ came into the world, he was the Son of God and he was able to do things that were supposed to distinctively point to his deity.

So there was an amazing power in Jesus, who never failed. He spoke and it happened. He didn’t fumble around with long prayers. He just said, „Get up,” and they got up. Nobody ever refused to get up when he said, „Get up.” When he spoke to the dead, „Rise,” they rose.

So Jesus was unique. And then around him was a cluster of apostles and the 70, and then a few more. And this intense breaking-in of the kingdom and showing itself with these stunning, infallible miracles was shared by these men. But they didn’t have it, I don’t think, in quite the same way he did.

And then, as you move out from there, I think it lessens. And I don’t think we should be faulted entirely for this. Like, since we don’t see people healed when they walk through our shadow on the street, we should feel like failures. Or like, if I really had faith, people could touch my handkerchief or walk through my shadow and they would be healed.

I don’t think we should feel like failures, because I don’t think that God has ordained that the same intensity and clustering of power for supernatural intervention was intended to be normative for the whole church.

It can break out anytime he pleases, in order to demonstrate his power (and so revival has often brought that kind of demonstration). But I think that already in the New Testament we see evidences that, on the periphery it’s beginning to be less.

Paul says, „Take a little wine for your stomach, Timothy, because you’ve got this stomach problem,” instead of, „Bang! I’ve got enough faith, I’m healing Timothy!” Why?

And Paul himself suffered many kinds of things that weren’t miraculously healed. When he was lacerated on his back or stoned, they didn’t get over him and just pray and—bang!—all the scars and infection went away. He dealt with the same things we did.

So my answer is that miracles are happening today around the world, in some measure. They can happen more when God is pleased to pour out his Spirit. And the reason it’s not as normative now as it was in the apostles is because he meant to signify that this point in history, this incarnation, this authoritative band of apostles was unique.

By John Piper. ©2012 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org

Related Resources from John Piper

The King is Coming

sermon notes from David Platt’s present sermon series reads like a worshipful poem:

THE KING IS COMING

Matthew 21:1-22

Attributes of the King…

He is the divine King.
He is the prophesied King.
He is the righteous King.
He is the Savior King.
He is the gentle King.
He is the peaceful King.
He is the global King.
He is the Messianic King.
He is the compassionate King.
He is the prophetic King.
He is the holy King.
He is the authoritative King.

He has authority over the temple.
He has authority over disease.
He has authority over all people.
He has authority over all creation.

He is the coming King.

He came the first time humbly riding on a colt… To rescue sinners.

To be crucified as King.

He will come the second time sovereignly reigning on a horse…

To rule sinners.
To be crowned as King.

Application to our Lives…

Let us give him praise.
Gladly surrender to this King today.

Let us prioritize prayer.
Continually seek this King every day.

Let us bear fruit in our lives.
This King desires—and deserves—more than hollow worship and hypocritical religion.

Let us have faith as his church.
This King can—and will—do the impossible when we ask.

The most powerful sermon ***

Preachers have their own set of temptations!  That fact can be illustrated by an event in the life of John Bunyan.  Bunyan had preached an unusually anointed sermon.  Immediately after the service, a layman jumped from his pew and raced to shake Bunyan’s hand exclaiming, “Bunyan, that was the most powerful sermon I have ever heard!”  Bunyan replied with brutal honesty, “Man, you need not tell me that. The devil whispered it to me before I was well out of the pulpit.”

Preachers face the temptation to “enjoy the sound of their own voice,” to secretly revel in the compliments they hear, and as in the case of Bunyan, to give ear to our adversary’s commendations on our preaching.

God’s moral Will and God’s Sovereign Will by John Piper

John Piper from Feb. 9, 2011

I would like to help you distinguish between God’s moral will and his sovereign will. This will help you make sense of the apparent contradiction between these two statements:

1. God does all things according to his will (sovereign will).

“He does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand” (Daniel 4:35).

“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalms 115:3).

2. Some things happen that are not God’s will (moral will).

“Whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17)—implying some don’t.

“The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9)—yet some do perish.

In other words, the Bible makes a distinction between God’s will, understood as his purpose that is never frustrated in any event; and God’s will, understood as his moral command to act a certain way.

One of the clearest evidences of the difference between God’s sovereign will and his moral will is the fact that God morally forbids murder:

“Do not kill the innocent” (Exodus 23:7).

And yet he willed the murder of his Son:

“Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place” (Acts 4:27–28).

One of the high and holy truths about God that we embrace in submitting to biblical truth is that God does not sin in willing that sin be. This is crucial, because the design of God in the cross hangs on it.

God’s ways and will are pure. He has his holy purposes in ordaining all that comes to pass.

“He works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11).

“All his works are right and his ways are just” (Daniel 4:37).

Let us worship and bow down.

(via) © 2011 Desiring God

John Piper on the use of video clips and drama in the church service

via the Christian Post:

What are your thoughts on drama, movie clips, and the like in a church service?

I’ll start with the freedom that we have in Christ, and then I’ll move to the position that I operate in.

The New Testament isn’t explicit on forbidding using a screen to put the lyrics up, or to put the scene of a waterfall behind it, or to make the waterfall actually move behind it, or to show a picture of your fishing trip to illustrate the big fish that you caught and how your people should now go out and be „fishers of men.” The Bible doesn’t forbid it.

I’ll be gone in a few years and you can do whatever you want to do, but I believe profoundly in the power and the till-Jesus-comes-validity of preaching. And by that I mean the spirit-anointed exposition of the Scripture through clear explanations and applications of what’s there. There’s something God-appointed about that.

I think the use of video and drama largely is a token of unbelief in the power of preaching. And I think that, to the degree that pastors begin to supplement their preaching with this entertaining spice to help people stay with them and be moved and get helped, it’s going to backfire. It’s going to backfire.

It’s going to communicate that preaching is weak, preaching doesn’t save, preaching doesn’t hold, but entertainment does. And we’ll just go further and further. So we don’t do video clips during the sermon. We don’t do skits.

I went to a drama at our church four days ago. I believe in drama. I believe in the power of drama. But let drama be drama! And let preaching be preaching! Let’s have the arts in our churches, but don’t try to squash it all into Sunday morning. So I get worked up about these things.

That’s where I am on that. Free. Nobody is going to go to hell because of this, in the short run.

You can read the entire article here.

Matt Chandler – 20/20 Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Conference 2010


via sebts.edu Matt Chandler preaching from Colossians 1:13-23, Chandler challenges us to clearly define the Gospel. This message was preached for the 2010 20/20 collegiate conference at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Chandler, who was in the middle of chemotherapy for brain cancer, prerecorded this message.

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