Sunday, January 30, 2011
Delivered in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, 1851 - By Joseph Irons
"Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree."
(1 Peter 2:24)
I was told, an hour ago, that it was madness for me to attempt to go into my pulpit. "Well, then," I said, "I will be mad; I will go once more, at all events;" and this portion was so sweet, so savoury to my own spirit, that if I can only talk to you a quarter of an hour, about it, I would rather do so than abandon it. You must, therefore, bear with my infirmities.
"Who His own self bare our sins." What! will He not let me help Him? No, nor you neither, nor any Arminian in the world. "His own self." He was all alone. "Of the people there was none with Him." (Isa. 63:3) "His own self bare our sins." Whose? whose? Can you put in your claim to it? Do you really believe it was yours? Do you really believe that the Lord made Him sin for you? I do, blessed be His name. I am satisfied of it as I am that I am a creature. Well, but I want my hearers to look at it in this individual and wordy sense. "Our sins" all, the entire weight and burden. "In His own body." It is no part of mine to help Him. "On the tree," too, the accursed death, a death allotted only to the vilest of criminals and slaves. There hung my precious Christ, the glorious Mediator; there He hung, nailed up, and bearing my sins. "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree." Sure I am that we do not half love Him enough. Sure I am that we are all of us sadly unconscious of His great preciousness, value, and importance. I could not help saying to the individual that advised me not to attempt to go into the pulpit, "Ah! if you loved Jesus Christ only as much as I do, and I do not love Him half enough, you could not bear to be silent as long as you could utter a sentence." Well, then, I am going to try and say a little about the Burden-bearer "His own self;" then I will try if I can say a word about the immensity of the burden "all our sins;" and then a word or two about the design God had in view.
Now, beloved, you will perceive that there is enough in this plan, which God gave me upon a bed of anguish, enough only in this plan to last a man two or three hours, if he had strength to follow it out. Think of the Burden-bearer, who He is, what He is! Think of the burden, all the guilt, all the sin, all the weight, of all the election of grace, from Adam's day till now! And then think of the design of God, the eternal salvation of His whole Church!
I. I will now try and talk a little about the Burden-bearer, blessings on His name! Who is He? "His own self?" Why, it was the Holy One of God. That is the very appellation the devil gave Him. The devils speak the truth sometimes. "We know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God." (Luke 4:34) I know it; He is just that, "the holy child Jesus" the holy, undefiled, sinless, perfect, glorious Lord of glory. What! He bear my sins! What! the holy Christ of God bear my sins? "His own self." Gabriel could not help Him. "I could call down twelve legions of angels, if I wanted them." He would not have the help of one of them. No; it must be "His own self." Oh! the abominable wickedness of Arminianism, to think of helping Him, to think of doing what He has left undone, to think of putting a stroke to His work. No, beloved, it was "His own self." Bear with my weakness. I want to testify to the last that everything that man puts in is blasphemy. It was "His own self." Oh, that glorious, precious self! But how came He to be capable of bearing my sins? He could not bear them as God; He could not bear them, nor suffer for them as essential Deity only. Oh! wonder, ye heavens, and be astonished, O earth, this precious, glorious, Holy One of God, the second Person in the adorable Trinity, became incarnate; the covenant Head became incarnate, for the express purpose of bearing my sins. I ask you, my hearers, to look at the dearest relative you have upon earth. Would you become a dog, or any brute, for the purpose of rescuing any dear relative from misery? I scarcely think there is one among you who would think of such a thing. And yet my glorious Christ did not become a dog, but stooped lower, for a dog never committed the sins I have and became incarnate, "took upon Him the likeness of sinful flesh." I pray you pause here a moment. He did not take sinful flesh, though some wicked beings have been daring enough to say so. No; it is the likeness of sinful flesh. He knew no sin He did no sin; all sin was laid upon Him, but none was found in Him. I beg of you always to keep up that distinction as long as you live the difference between sin being laid upon Him and sin being found in Him. If sin had been found in Him in the smallest degree, His sacrifice had never been accepted, His offering had not been worth a straw. But while all sin was laid upon Him, that is, all the sin of His Church, there was none to be found in Him. The Father saw none, the Holy Ghost saw none. He knew no sin; and yet this precious, glorious Christ put His shoulder under the yoke to bear all my sins. Beloved, though I cannot say much about it, my very soul seems to melt at the thought that the huge burden of my sins, which would depress me to the very lowest hell for ever, has been carried away by my glorious Burden-bearer.
Well, look a moment longer at His mediatorial responsibility. He did not bear the burden as of absolute necessity, or as forced upon Him, but as a voluntary act "His own self." He stood forth as the Mediator between God and man, as a voluntary act. That can never be too deeply impressed upon your minds. It was a voluntary act. "No man taketh my life from me," says He oh, no! "I lay it down of myself, and I take it again." (John 10:18) A voluntary act. If you forget all I have said to you for thirty years, I pray you never forget this, that if the doing and dying of Christ had not been a voluntary act of His own, it had been worth nothing to any sinner under heaven; but, blessings on His name, while the Father gave Him, while the Father appointed Him, and commissioned Him, He, "His own self," came forth voluntary to take the human nature, to become incarnate, in order that in His humanity He might bear all my sins in His own body on the tree. They could not have fastened Deity to the tree, you know; they could not have scourged the back of Deity, and the ploughers made their furrows upon Him as the Psalmist has it; they could not have fixed a crown of thorns upon the head of Deity; but, in order to bear and suffer all this, "His own self" came down, "His own self" assumed my nature, "His own self" appeared in the character of man, of fallen man, suffered death on the tree.
On the tree. Well, now, I will pause here a moment just to look at the tree. I cannot look at you, I can hardly see a person before me; however, I can look to the tree. There it stood, a transverse timber fixed in the ground, with His holy "own self" upon it; and while hanging there, He is bearing all my sins, all my rebellion, all my fretfulness, all my weaknesses "His own self" bearing them. Beloved, do you feel at all in love with Him? Can you love Him? Is He not altogether lovely? "His own self" on that tree.
Well, there were two other trees, and there were two thieves upon them; the one, went to hell, and the other to heaven. These two trees were one on His right hand, and the other on His left; but I fix my gaze upon the middle tree between the thieves. Oh! the loveliness of that "own self," that precious Christ; to think that He would leave the bosom of the Father, where He had lain from eternity; that He would come into the world, and endure the contradiction of sinners against Him, work and slave for eighteen years as a carpenter, and then bear all the persecutions of the Jews for the three years of His ministry, and afterwards hang upon the tree. Lord Jesus, forgive my want of love. "His own self!" Precious Burden-bearer!
II. Well, then, I will try and say a word about the immensity of the burden, our sins. What do you think of the weight of your sin? Beloved, do you suppose that you have sin enough to press down a world into hell? I do. Do you really feel that it is a burden too heavy to bear? Has the law brought home its demands and accusations? Has its spirituality entered into the vitals? Do you really know that if you had kept it all with the exception of one point, that one point makes you guilty of all? Are you really conscious before God that the curse would lie heavily upon you to all eternity, but for Christ? "Our sins." Oh! look for a moment at the whole number of the election of God, the whole weight of all their iniquities. Let me try a moment's calculation. I look at my own, and think from the moment I was born of these sixty-six years, what has gone on, what there is in me, what I brought into the world with me, and what I am utterly incapable even of atoning for. Well, then, multiply, if you will allow the arithmetic, multiply mine and yours by those of all the election of grace that have ever lived from Adam's day; and then think what a mass, what a mound, what an immensity of guilt, sin, burden, wickedness, rebellion, must have been laid upon Christ. Take into account that beautiful Scripture which we have so often had occasion to quote, "All we, like sheep, have gone astray, and have turned every one unto his own way." (Isa. 53:6) The Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all "the iniquity of us all, all of you, all the election of grace, all that believe in Christ. I know very well that modern divines will revile me for this; they will say, "Why don't you say, 'all the world?'" I do not, I cannot. It is not found in my Bible. I tell you it is the sheep that have gone astray, and the Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquity of them all. I cannot at all understand how those beings can interpret such a text as that which we read in the chapter this morning respecting the disobedient and rebellious against God, concerning whose character it is immediately added, "Whereunto they were also appointed." (1 Peter 2:8) I cannot at all tell how such beings who reject the doctrine of grace can understand such a text. I believe it as it stands. Further, I come to the other family. "But ye." Who? The "chosen generation," the "royal priesthood," "ye elect souls." (1 Peter 2:9) Now if I had my own will, I would never preach to any but elect souls. I know the Holy Ghost never preaches to any other; but my commission is to preach to every creature. It is God's part to find out His own; and when He finds them out, He puts His grace into their hearts, He brings them to this important point, that the whole of their sins, the whole of their guilt, the whole of their miseries, were laid upon Him, and endured by Him, the precious Christ of God. I think that the chief cause of the unhappiness of many that I could hope and believe are Christians, lies in this, that they will not allow Christ to carry it all. There lies the mischief; they will not allow Him to bear it all; their repentance is to do something, their believing is to do something, their praying is to do something, something is to be done by the creature. My hearer, it is all delusion. "His own self" bare the whole weight; all the guilt and transgression of the entire Church of God is laid upon Christ; He, "His own self," bare it; and woe be to you and me if He did not; everlasting ruin to you and to me would be inevitable, if He did not. Herein I rejoice; and I could not help coming to say these few words this morning, because "His own self" seemed so precious to me. "His own self bare our sins."
Well, if I had all the sins of all the world, all the sins of Adam's race that have ever been committed since Adam fell, laid upon me, I have only just to look at the tree, that is enough. If I have only faith enough to look at the tree, put them all upon the tree, and see, by faith, that not only did the Father lay them upon Him, but that He voluntarily undertook to bear them, I am easy enough; sin shall not touch me, the devil shall not alarm me, death has no annoyance to me; indeed, I long for it, if it may be so called. I have nothing more to do than to fall into the arms of my covenant God, because Jesus Himself, "His own self," has borne my sins in His own body on the tree.
Still, now, I suppose that some of my hearers will upbraid me, I cannot help it, for this strain. I will go on a few minutes longer if I can. Just mark, that while this precious, glorious "own self," the Christ of God, took the whole of the sin of the Church upon His person (and never forget my meaning,) yet that He Himself exercised the voluntary affection of the eternal God, and engaged, as the covenant Head of His Church, responsibly to emancipate, ah! there lies the blessing, to emancipate His entire Church from all sorrow. His love, His eternal, immutable, unchangeable love is such, that the results of Gethsemane's horrors and Calvary's torments, where He bare our sins, continue to the present hour; and He ever lives to intercede for all that come to God by Him. This seems to me the very climax of His work. He did not remain in the grave; He could not be holden of it. The apostle says, or rather the Holy Ghost by the apostle, that it was impossible that He could be holden of it. Why not? Death holds many; it lays its grasp upon many; but it could not hold Him. Why? He tore out the sting; He had been its plague; He had vanquished death, and overcome its power; and, therefore, though He stooped to the grave, in order to pass through the entire ordeal which the Father had appointed, and that He had engaged for in covenant, it was not possible He could be holden of it. He vanquished it; He became the mighty conqueror. Well, but how so? Ah! the poor women were sadly dismayed. They thought He was shut in finally; they knew there was a great stone rolled to the door of the sepulchre, and sealed with a seal, and watchmen, and soldiers, and guards, about it; and as they went to take a last peep at the place where the Lord lay, they said to one another, "Who shall roll away the stone." He wanted neither angels, nor men, nor powers, on earth, nor powers in heaven. "I lay down my life, and I take it up again." (John 10:17) How solemn, how blessed, how beautiful, are these words! "I lay down my life" just as I could lay my head down to sleep "and I take it up again." My hearers, is it not grievous that you and I cannot trust the Saviour better than we do? Is it not grievous that we do not love Him more, that we do not serve Him more? I am positively ashamed of my Christianity; I am not only ashamed of my sins and myself, but I am ashamed of my Christianity, that such a precious Christ should not be loved, and honoured, and adored, to a greater extent.
III. Well, let us say a word or two, if we can about the design. Why should the Father bruise Him, and put Him to grief? Why should He stoop voluntarily to endure this shameful and ignominious death? I will try and tell you why. It was just to complete the entire salvation of His Church; just to complete that. And I throw out this idea, on purpose to war again for a few minutes against those horrible notions that would represent the salvation of God as not being complete. I think the divinity of the present day is very much like what wicked Mammon wrote in that book, called "Mammon," I think. He says, in so many words, that sin frustrated God's design, and destroyed it in type and model. I think I never was so horrified with any sentence in my life, not even with any in Tom Paine's works, as I was with that; that sin should frustrate, should overthrow and destroy God's purpose in type and model. Really the devil would be ashamed to write such a sentence. On the contrary, I maintain that Jehovah's design never can be frustrated; and that the very design and purpose for which Jesus "bare our sins in His own body on the tree" was, that He might cancel the debt, might complete redemption, might accomplish salvation without the possibility of a failure, and work out and bring in everlasting righteousness. Bear me testimony, if I speak no more, that this has been my positive, and firm, and determined avowal of the preciousness of Christ, His complete salvation; justice satisfied, law honoured, the perfections of Deity glorified, His own designs carried out, every elect vessel of mercy fully recovered; and in due time all to be pardoned, justified, accepted, and brought home to everlasting glory. I believe, in my inmost soul, that there will not be an elect vessel of mercy absent, no, not even me, when He shall make up His jewels.
A word more. His official standing where He is seems to gladden my heart beyond anything else. Oh, if He had been left in the grave! If He had been left in Joseph's tomb, my hopes were gone. Where is He? At the right hand of the Majesty on high. Where is He? Ever living to make intercession. What! Was it not enough that He should officially suffer, and officially atone? Must He officially live to intercede? Oh, yes! His office is retained now. Away with all other priests! He is mine, and He is officially living to make intercession for me.
Well, then, mark the majesty which He exercises in absolute sovereignty on behalf of His Church. He not only lives to intercede, but, as King of kings, and Lord of lords, He sends down the Comforter. He says, "I will send down the Comforter." "I will never leave nor forsake you." "I will come myself unto you." What! Is the precious Christ of God to be at the same moment on the throne pleading for me, and in my heart communicating blessings and comforts to me, and in my pulpit bearing me up to say a few words for Him? What a wonderful Christ! My hearers, I beg of you all to forgive me; but I charge again, all of you, and myself, with ingratitude. We do not love Him enough; we do not serve Him enough; we do not praise Him enough. Oh, could we have more believing views of His essential character, of His official character, of His mediatorial character now going on, of His priestly intercession before the throne, surely we should love Him.
Then just one thought more, if I can. Mark the exaltation to which He is not only raised, but to which He determines to raise all His Church. Remember that sweet text, "To Him that overcometh with I give to sit down with me upon my throne; even as I have overcome, and have sat down with my Father upon His throne." (Rev. 3:21) Who would not spend his last breath in honouring such a Christ, in glorifying His great self, and in exalting His name?
I must suddenly break off, only pleading that God will put some power into these few hints, and profit your souls; and then He may take me home as soon as He will.
Monday, January 24, 2011
All God’s people, sooner or later, are brought to this point - to see that God has a ‘people,’ a ‘peculiar people,’ a people separate from the world, a people whom He has ‘formed for Himself that they should show forth His praise.’
Election, sooner or later, is rivetted in the hearts of God’s people. And a man that lives and dies in enmity against this blessed doctrine, lives and dies in his sins; and if he dies in enmity, he will be damned in that enmity.
Every child of God is brought, sooner or later, to see that God has a people; and the longing desire of every living soul is to be manifested as one of that people. There are no cavillings against election, after God has broken a man down to nothing. There may be cavillings against it until we are stripped of all; but when a man is stripped of all, made a beggar, a bankrupt, a pauper, a poor needy insolvent with a huge debt and nothing wherewith to pay, then election is made manifest in that man’s conscience, because he feels that unless God has chosen him from eternity, he will never see His face in glory.”
By J. C. Philpot
I do and am constantly maintaining both privately and publicly as far as ever the Lord has enabled me the wonders, the glories, the beauties and the preciousness of love. And yet I must be branded as being a man that is an enemy to love.
But if by love, these people who brand me as an enemy of love mean that I ought to unite with Arians and Socinians who deny the deity of my Lord and Saviour whom I proved again in my very soul that he is the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace.
If by love they mean that I ought to meet and unite occasionally with people that can testify and say without a blush that election is a damnable doctrine and they hate it with their hearts, that imputed righteousness is imputed nonsense and a doctrine that ought to be abhorred and spurned by all which is the very garment and covering that hides all my shame, the very robe that adorns my naked soul and so very many times has been the joy and rejoicing of my heart and which I have found to be so many times the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
If they mean by love that I ought to unite with people that can say and testify that we may be a child of God one day and a child of the devil another, that Christ died and atoned for the sins of Esau, as well as of Jacob, for Cain as well as Abel, for Judas as well as for Peter, and that there are thousands in hell for whom Christ died.
If they mean by love that I ought to unite and call these brethren who profess to believe in the doctrine of grace and call themselves Calvinists, but can declare at times that those blessed doctrines which are so precious and glorious to my soul are nonessential things. That is, if I understand their meaning right, they view them as useless things and that it is of no consequence whatsoever whether we receive or believe these doctrines or not provided we do but unite with all sorts and pray for all and be candid and mild and esteem all as partakers of grace, — I confess from my heart if all this be love I am destitute of it. And instead of being grieved for my want of it, I glory in it.
I do not indeed feel the least ill-will against any of their persons, as the creatures of God, nor do I desire to do them the least injury, but those principles that debase free and sovereign grace, and exalt the creature, I hate and abhor.
For how can two walk together except they be agreed?
My soul has bought truth too dearly to part with it for such empty baubles as the praises and smiles of men; and those professors that love the smiles of men more than the truth of God, they are heartily welcome to them. I do not begrudge them. But notwithstanding all that ever these reporters could report, God stood by me, a poor worm, and gave such testimony to the word of grace, that neither men nor devils could overthrow it. I believe they tried with all their might to do so; but God hath said it, and I know it will stand, for I have proved it again and again: — “My word shall go forth; it shall prosper in the thing whereunto I have sent it; it shall not return unto me void.” (Isaiah 55:11)
Sunday, January 23, 2011
"I see that you are very religious in every way."
True religion is what the world does not want--nor does true religion want the world. The two are as separate as Christ and Belial.
But some religion the world must have!
And as it will not have, and cannot have the true--it will and must have the false.
Worldly religion cannot exist without an order of men to teach it and practice its ceremonies. Hence come clergy, forming a recognized priestly caste. And as these must, to avoid confusion, be governed, all large corporate bodies requiring a controlling power, thence come bishops and archbishops, ecclesiastical courts, archdeacons--and the whole apparatus of clerical government.
The ceremonies and ordinances cannot be carried on without buildings set apart for the purpose--thence churches and cathedrals. As prayer is a part of all religious worship, and carnal men cannot, for lack of the Spirit, pray spiritually--they must have forms of devotion made ready to their hand, thence come prayer-books and liturgies. As there must be mutual points of agreement to hold men together, there must be written formulas of doctrine--thence come articles, creeds, and confessions of faith.
And finally, as there are children to be instructed, and this cannot be safely left to oral teaching, for fear of ignorance in some and error in others, the very form of instruction must be drawn up in so many words--thence come catechisms.
People are puzzled sometimes to know why there is this and that thing in an established religion--why we have churches and clergy, tithes and prayer-books, universities and catechisms--and the whole apparatus of religion.
They do not see that all these things have sprung, as it were, out of a moral necessity, and are based upon the very constitution of man--that this great and widespread tree of a human religion has its deep roots in the natural conscience; and that all these branches necessarily and naturally grow out of the broad and lofty stem. The attachment, then, of worldly people to a worldly religion is no great mystery. It is no riddle for a Samson to put forth--or requiring a Solomon to solve.
By Joseph Philpot
I am quite sick of modern religion--it is such a mixture, such a medley, such a compromise. I find much, indeed, of this religion in my own heart, for it suits the flesh well--but I would not have it so, and grieve it should be so. The religion which I want is that of the Holy Spirit.
I know nothing but what He teaches me.
I feel nothing but what He works in me.
I believe nothing but what He shows me.
I only mourn when He smites my rocky heart.
I only rejoice when He reveals the Saviour.
This religion I am seeking after - no other will satisfy or content me.
True religion is a supernatural and mysterious thing.
By Joseph Philpot
Standing at the cross of our adorable Lord, we see the law thoroughly fulfilled, its curse fully endured, its penalties wholly removed, sin eternally put away, the justice of God amply satisfied, all His perfections gloriously harmonized, His holy will perfectly obeyed, reconciliation completely effected, redemption graciously accomplished, and the church everlastingly saved!
At the cross we see sin in its blackest colours, and holiness in its fairest beauties.
At the cross we see the love of God in its tenderest form, and the anger of God in its deepest expression.
At the cross we see the blessed Redeemer lifted up, as it were between heaven and earth, to show to angels and to men the spectacle of redeeming love, and to declare at one and the same moment, and by one and the same act of the suffering obedience and bleeding sacrifice of the Son of God--the eternal and unalterable displeasure of the Almighty against sin, and the rigid demands of His inflexible justice, and yet the tender compassion and boundless love of His heart to the elect.
At the cross, and here alone, are obtained pardonand peace.
At the cross, and here alone, penitential grief and godly sorrow flow from heart and eyes.
At the cross, and here alone, is sin subdued and mortified, holiness communicated, death vanquished, Satan put to flight, and happiness and heaven begun in the soul.
O what heavenly blessings, what present grace, as well as what future glory, flow through the cross!
What a holy meeting-place for repenting sinners and a sin-pardoning God!
What a healing-place for guilty, yet repenting and returning backsliders!
What a door of hope in the valley of Achor for the self-condemned and self-abhorred!
What a blessed resting-place for the whole family of God in this valley of grief and sorrow!
By Joseph Philpot
Thursday, January 20, 2011
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
(2 Corinthians 5:21)
Christ our Lord had no sin, knew no sin and did no sin. He was perfect before the law of God (I Peter 2:22; Hebrews 4:15).
Our sins were reckoned to him. He was identified and numbered with the transgressors and, though he personally had no sin, yet by imputation he was the world's greatest sinner and was dealt with as such and died under the wrath of God (Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 9:28; Romans 8:32).
All of this was done that we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ and, by our identification and oneness with Christ justified. Christ, who knew no sin, was made sin for us that we, who have no righteousness, might be made righteous before God in him (Romans 10:1-4).
With his spotless garments on, we are as holy as his Son (Isaiah 45:24).
Someone said, "The gospel can be summed up in two words – substitution and satisfaction." Christ, as our Substitute, made full and complete satisfaction for us before God's holy law and righteous justice. In him we are wholly sanctified, completely and eternally saved.
By Henry Mahan
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death."
(2 Corinthians 7:10)
These two kinds of repentance are to be carefully distinguished from each other; though they are often sadly confounded. Cain, Esau, Saul, Ahab, Judas, all repented. But their repentance was the remorse of natural conscience, not the godly sorrow of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. They trembled before God as an angry Judge, but were not melted into contrition before Him as a forgiving Father.
They neither hated their sins nor forsook them. They neither loved holiness nor sought it.
Cain went out from the presence of the Lord.
Esau plotted Jacob's death.
Saul consulted the witch of Endor.
Ahab put honest Micaiah into prison.
Judas hanged himself.
How different from this forced and false repentance of a reprobate, is the repentance of a child of God; that true repentance for sin, that godly sorrow, that holy mourning which flows from the Spirit's gracious operations!
Godly sorrow does not spring from a sense of the wrath of God in a broken law, but from His mercy in a blessed gospel; from a view by faith of the sufferings of Christ in the garden and on the cross; from a manifestation of pardoning love; and is always attended with self-loathing and self-abhorrence; with deep and unreserved confession of sin and forsaking it; with most hearty, sincere and earnest petitions to be kept from all evil; and a holy longing to live to the praise and glory of God.
By J.C. Philpot
"Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious, for as I was walking along I saw your many altars. And one of them had this inscription on it — TO AN UNKNOWN GOD."
Man has been called, and perhaps with some truth, a religious animal. Religion of some kind, at any rate, seems almost indispensable to his very existence—for from the most civilized nation, to the most barbarous tribe upon the face of the earth—we find some form of religion practiced. Whether this is ingrained into the very constitution of man, or whether it be received by custom or tradition—I will not pretend to decide. But that some kind of religion is almost universally prevalent, is a fact that cannot be denied. We will always find these two kinds of religion...false and true, earthly and heavenly, fleshly and spiritual, natural and supernatural.
Compare this vital, spiritual, heavenly, divine, supernatural religion - this work of grace upon the soul, this teaching of God in the heart, this life of faith within — with its flimsy counterfeit. Compare the actings of real faith, real hope, real love; the teachings, the dealings, the leadings, and the operations of the blessed Spirit in the soul — with rounds of duties, superstitious forms, empty ceremonies, and a notional religion, however puffed up and varnished.
Compare the life of God in the heart of a true Christian, amid all his dejection, despondency, trials, temptations, and exercises; compare that precious treasure, Christ's own grace in the soul — with all mere external religion, superficial religion, notional religion. O, it is no more to be compared than a grain of dust with a diamond! No more to be compared than a criminal in a dungeon to the King on the throne! In fact, there is no comparison between them.
By J.C. Philpot
Sunday, January 16, 2011
"It was meet that we should make merry and be glad, for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again, and was lost and is found."
THIS parable, like all parables, has one particular end, or lesson, to set before us. You will never be able to make parables equal in every point, but you will find, as led by the Spirit, that each parable has one special lesson, an instruction which, when opened and set on the heart with power, discovers some particular part of the gospel, some particular perfection of God, some particular end that God has in view. In this parable, as I understand it, the end, the point, the lesson of it is, the kindness and love of God to His poor, repenting, returning sons.
There have been a good many disputes as to who the elder brother is and represents, and I do not intend to enter into that matter, beyond this general remark; that the elder brother, as set before us in this parable, has, in my judgment, more marks of a sinner dead in trespasses and sins, than anything else. He quarrels with his Father's love, he rebels against the heavenly music, he dares to say to his Father that he has never broken one of His commandments. He is angry and bitter at the kind, paternal reception of the wicked younger son, who went out rich, and came back poor; clean, and came back polluted; well clothed, came back in rags; well-nourished, came back half starved; but came back with one thing in his heart and on his lips - repentance. May God save us from being like the elder brother.
The younger son asked and got that part of his Father's portion which he thought to be due to him; and having obtained it, he, not many days after, gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, where there would be no restraint, conscience easy and dead for the time being; and there wasted his substance in riotous living, where pride and voluptuousness reigned and was soon a beggar. This is our nature; this is our practice; this becomes our condition, and very solemn it is.
There came unto that land a mighty famine. God has means of working, means of pulling His sons back, means of bringing them to their senses; and the means He used in this instance was a famine, a mighty famine. People were dying. And this poor, haggard prodigal, reduced to penury, want, and shame, hires himself out to a citizen of that country, who sends him into his field to feed swine. Their conscience is made alive, active, powerful, honest. If you have a conscience moving, if it speaks to you, listen to God forbid you should be left to browbeat your conscience, and trample upon anything it may say. If it tells you you are wrong, listen to it; if it protests against your conduct, listen to it; if it points out to you your rags, look at them; if it speaks to you of your hunger-bitten strength, listen to it; if it begins to reflect on God's goodness and your wickedness, oh, listen to it. Conscience wrought upon by the Spirit of God is made God's friend in sinners, and made the friend of sinners in whom it is speaking. Conscience will always tell the truth, when moved and instructed by the Holy Ghost. And his memory was made active. It set before him his Father's house, the home he had left, the affluence he had enjoyed; and this moved him greatly. What a contrast! He now with swine, having to feed them, and so hungry himself that he, if he might have done so, would gladly have eaten the husks that were given to him to give to the swine. He who had been in affluence was reduced by sin to this condition.
And now with the picture of his Father's house before him, with his present distress and poverty and shame, and rags and ingratitude and evil, his heart goes back to the house he had left, and the Father he had so maltreated, and he says, "I will arise." Do you feel a rising at any time? "I will arise, and go to my Father"? And he frames to himself an address, a confession, and a petition, which he would present to his injured Father: I have sinned against heaven and in Thy sight" - how true - "and am no more worthy to be called Thy son" - how true! The petition is, "Make me as one of Thy hired servants." This his Father chokes down, will not listen to.
In the first place, I would make a few remarks upon the condition to which we have all reduced ourselves. We were made upright and in the image of God. We were rich, being well favoured, blessed with power to do what was our duty to do to our Creator and Lawgiver. But we soon became discontented, that is to say, we fell; and the consequence of the Fall was just the condition we are in, and a further consequence, if Christ prevent not, the condition we shall be in through eternity. A woeful condition that. Oh it is good to have eyes to see what we are; good to have a heart to feel what we are; good to have an honest conscience to confess what we have done, and good to have grace in our lame and miserable, wretched and forlorn, ragged and shamed condition to come back. This younger son had no excuses. This is a mark. Before God kindly dealt with Adam, Adam had an excuse for his sin. "The woman Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me, and I did eat." Oh what a miserable excuse for sin! Who has it now? Who does not excuse himself? Who does not justify himself? "Are we blind also? We never were in bondage." There were always excuses found by us. Excuses are most prolific in a carnal heart at enmity with God. The prodigal had not one, as far as this parable shows us. All he: had to say, all that was in his mouth, was a confession, with one petition added. He comes in this state.
How does he get back? How does a poor sinner come to God? By the Spirit of grace and of supplication. (Zech. 12:10) How do you guide your horse? With bit and bridle, and by that you turn him whithersoever you will. That is how God deals with people who are coming to Him; how else should they find the way? Who knows his way to God untaught, unled? So the Spirit of grace and of supplication being promised is given; and poor sinners thus blessed come, prodigal-like they come. They are not unobserved, "I have observed him." There is an Eye upon them, even when they are afar off; when they may be finding it difficult to come, feeling shame and pain; when they may be wondering whether God will kindly look on them, or whether rather He will not cut them off the moment He sees them. He looks, this good Father looks upon this returning son, and sees him in his condition of woe; and love will not wait for his weary steps to reach the door, it goes out to meet him. That is just what God does. His love never waits for a sinner to walk all the weary way before it takes a step to him. Love will always be first. Love drew him, pulled him; love moved his conscience and guided his steps; it guided him, and now it goes out to meet him. And you who are returning will find it so one day, whether it be for the first time or as a backslider, you will find it so.
The text is part of the Father's answer to the un grateful and ungracious elder son: "It was meet that we should make merry and be glad." - "There is good reason for it, it is suitable, proper to the occasion." What is this meetness? Well, I understand it spiritually thus:
i. It was meet for eternal love, proper for eternal love to go out to an object of it. How meet it is for God to show love! It is a part of Godï¿½s goodness to communicate of itself; and there is no more proper object in the world than a prodigal, no other object so proper, since all men are sinners. It is meet for God's goodness to communicate of itself to a poor, returning, miserable, ragged, shamed prodigal. God will communicate of Himself; there is much in Him that is communicable, and which therefore He communicates. He can and does communicate of His love. "I have loved thee," He says to some, "with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." (Jer. 31:3) And "the love of God is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost." It is not more natural for our sun to communicate of its light and heat than it is for God to communicate of His love. It is not more natural for all rivers to run into the sea than it is for the river of God's love to run to His elect people. Oh, God is good. God is love. He cannot, I would say it properly and with reverence, He cannot keep all this to Himself. He will not, because it is for men, poor, yet elected men. Oh, it is meet that God should be glad when one born of Him, bought by Him, quickened by Him, comes in his misery and emptiness and hunger and guilt; it is meet that a God of love, should be glad. If angels, pure creatures, rejoice in heaven over repenting sinners, how much more will a God of love, who has made them repenting sinners, rejoice over them in their repenting condition! This is one great mystery of God, that He receives sinners, and eats with them; does not disdain them. It would be a great test of human love in any father, to have coming back to his home a son who had wasted all that parental love had given to him to have that son come back disgraced, degraded, and ragged, - to receive him kindly. But the love of God glories in this. This He esteems an honour to Himself, even to forgive sin. He does justify the ungodly.
"Sinners are high in His esteem,
And sinners highly value Him."
"Come then, repenting sinner, come;
Approach with humble faith;
Owe what thou wilt, the total sum
Is cancelled by His death."
It is meet that God should rejoice over, and with, a poor son of His who comes in this condition.
And this is a rebuke - may God make it so to us where it is needed - this is a rebuke to the legal pride, and the preparing disposition, the self-cleansing disposition that we all have, a disposition to fit our selves; all have something of that sort. This parable rebukes it; and it says,
"Come needy, come naked, come loathsome, come bare,
You can't come too filthy, come just as you are."
There is never a harder thing for a poor sinner to do than that, and especially if he has wasted a good deal of God's money, - I mean a child of God who has wasted the good things, as we have it in the prophecy of Ezekiel, poured out the wine that God gave him as a libation to some idol, and spent the gold and the silver that God gave him on some vanity, and given the fine linen and the flax and all that God had given to him, to adorn some vanities. Oh, for such a person, for such a person to come boldly, is no easy matter! Some of us have been fools, and spent up all the oil and treasure that was ever in our hearts; then to come boldly is one of the greatest acts of faith that ever God will enable us to perform. "It was meet." Sinner, think of it, if you can. It is meet that God should rejoice with a bad son, and over him; meet that He should rejoice with a bankrupt son; meet that He should rejoice with a poverty-stricken and hunger-bitten son, and meet that He should fall on the neck of a ragged, polluted son, and kiss him; because he is His son, and because He loves His son.
This, as opened, will be an encouragement to us who resemble, to our pain and shame, the prodigal son. Love will bridge over every gulf between God and His coming sons. Love will do everything that a returning son requires to have done for him. Love thinks, if I may so put it, thinks nothing of the disgrace and the rags of this coming creature, but says, "Oh, welcome, My son! Thou hast been dead, but art now alive; hast been far off, now I welcome thee to My house again. Come in, come in." Here is love's feast, here is Wisdom's house, here are "her seven pillars," indicating no possible change in God. "Come into this house of wine, this banqueting house." It is meet for love. Love ought to be exalted, love ought to be extolled and made very high in this chapel, because some of us are amongst the worst of all the prodigals God has ever had to receive, and has received. "It was meet that we should make merry and be glad." Angels making merry, saints, brethren making merry, the Father making merry, the Son making merry, and the Holy Ghost making merry, oh, what a rejoicing company! Joy in heaven, joy in the conscience, joy in the spirit, joy in the church of the living God, all because of a poor creature who has disgraced himself, and now despises himself, and is sorry for every wrong step he took, every wrong thought he thought, every wrong word he uttered, and every wrong act he committed, - sorry and ashamed of all and for all; and now that this creature is come back, there is all this joy; great joy, heavenly merrymaking, as if the Fatherï¿½s heart is so glad, and the Son's heart is so glad, and the Spirit's heart is so glad that this sinner has come back, that there cannot be too much made of him. It is difficult to believe it, but it is true. It will bend your soul in deepest admiration and adoration, and melt you into the sweetest grief, and lay you in the deepest depths of a pleasant humility. It will do all this for you, when you get the reception. Oh may the Lord give us to believe it! We are not good when we come back, as the elder son had always remained, in his own judgment; we are to come back poor and wicked, not now doing wickedly, but having done so. It was meet to make merry on account of God's love.
ii. And further, it was meet on account of the atonement of Christ. The church that was purchased by His blood must be freed from death, and must live. The Lamb of God must be given to a poor hunger-bitten sinner who says, "I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not." Oh, there is a feast for you, you who are prodigals, you who are returning, you who are coming back with shame and fear and pain as you view yourselves; there is a feast, a feast of eternal mercy in the blessed Lamb of God. And Christ gives this evidence of life being really possessed or not: "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you." (John 6:53) But when a poor creature, finding himself hungry, and no man to give him even husks to eat, gets a drawing in his conscience and heart and spirit unto the Father's house, though he perhaps dares not think of God as his Father, he will find there is a feast awaiting him. The atonement makes a kindly reception necessary. Shall a blood bought sinner be rejected and repelled and turned back, while by the Holy Spirit's power he is coming in prayer and supplications? Never, never. May God give thee courage, poor sinner. If thou art old, and hast many and many a time been received, thou wilt need encouragement to-day. Every sight and sense of sin done against the goodness and love of God is more weighty, more discouraging than the very first sight; always it will be found to be so. But it is meet, it is proper, that the atonement should take effect in the conscience. It is meet that the purchase of Christ's blood should be in Christ's house. It is meet that one for whom that blood was shed should be cleansed by it; and no arguments against it will ever avail in the court of God, nor eventually in the court of conscience. No reasons you can produce will be strong enough to induce the Lord to repel and rebuke you. No. "This is My son, My beloved son, for whom I shed My blood; and that is the reason why, I will receive him. - Come in, thou blessed of the Lord;. come in, maimed and lame and blind and halt; come in, poor and miserable; come in, fraudulent bankrupt." What a gospel God has discovered! It was meet on the ground of the atoning blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. And if sin were a thousand times blacker and guiltier, than it is, it would still be meet to receive the deepest-dyed sinner who, blessed with repentance by the Holy Ghost, comes to God by prayer and supplications.
iii. It was meet because he was a son. In the parable he is a son. "Oh, but I am not," one may say, "at least I think, I fear, I am not." But every one born again is a son; he is begotten of an incorruptible seed, even "by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." (1 Pet. 1:23) What does God see in a son? His own nature: sons being made "partakers of the divine nature." Whatever is communicable in God He sees for substance in the son: "Predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son." (Rom. 8:29) And God sees this.
There are several things, which I would just name to you on this point. First, there is the spirit of repentance. "I will arise, I will go; I am sorry for my sin." Is not this an experience that frequently is made yours? Some of you must say it is.
"Repenting saints the Saviour own."
The Father owned this son; and you will own the Saviour when repentance works in you, that kindly spirit, that soft spirit, that tender spirit. God looks upon it. It is meet to rejoice over this, suitable. Why? Ought not the sinner to repent? Yes, but the law, except for the gospel, would not allow him to repent. Further, when he repents, it is by the gospel; and it is meet for God to own that which He Himself has given; meet to rejoice in that which He Himself has wrought. He has wrought the repentance; it is the Spiritï¿½s doing; it is the direct mission and work of the Holy Spirit in a sinner, to produce "repentance toward God." It is acknowledged in the Scriptures to be the work of God, and this is to be preached: "Repentance toward God." The gospel teaches it, the gospel allows it, and the gospel works it in the Spiritï¿½s hand. Repentance! gloomy, some people think; sweet, say all who experience it. O the relief of repentance! the sweetness of dropping a tear before God! the sweetness of being enabled to say, "I will be sorry for my sin" I And the Lord looks on it. O, come in," as if He should say to this poor sinner, "how welcome you are!" May the Lord say it to those of us who are in a case to need it Look at yourself, and what do you see? "Only sin." Nothing else? "Well, yes," one may say, "I do feel grieved that it is so with me. I wish it were otherwise. Oh, I wish I were at the Lordï¿½s feet." Well, the Holy Ghost sees that, because He has wrought it; He has given that very repentance that you so much desire to have, and which really you have.
There is this also: faith, true faith; "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." Now faith has a peculiar perception. It goes where reason cannot go; it goes where a legal mind cannot go; it goes out to the blessed work of Jesus Christ on the cross, and it sees in His blood such infinite value as that it begins to plead it. And mark, you who are blessed with faith will perceive it in your own souls at times; that when faith is drawn out into exercise, it will perceive an infinite value in the death of Christ. Faith will work here. This is her work, to fix in the atonement, to plead it before God, to make mention of it, and of it only, before God. The blood of Christ is a precious blood, a sin-cleansing blood, a sin-subduing blood, a sinner-uniting blood, uniting a sinner to God.
"The blood of Christ, a precious blood,
Cleanses from all sin. Doubt it not."
"All sin" is a big word, but the blood of Christ will bring it into your very heart. You will believe it. There was one word that this young man said, - "Father;" he had been at his Father's house. Now with respect to ourselves, we may stick at that a long time; but if we cannot say, "Father," yet if we can by faith speak of the precious blood of Jesus Christ, we shall speak that which is heaven's sweetest music, which gives the Father infinite pleasure, and which will, when applied, give to our consciences the sweetest peace; "It was meet." Oh, it is meet for God, it is meet for Christ, it is meet for the Holy Ghost, to rejoice; and it is meet for angels in heaven and spirits of just men made perfect in heaven, and saints in the church of the living God on earth, - it is meet for all of them: to unite in this merrymaking, this gladness, because one purchased by the blood of Christ is brought into the house of Christ, the banqueting house.
iv. It is meet, because the blessed invitations and promises of the gospel here begin to be fulfilled, and the Word of God can never be broken. Why, my friends, God says, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." He means it, He really means it. And it is meet when the dear Saviour sees at His heavenly footstool a mourning sinner. Christ sees more in a repenting sinner at His footstool, of beauty and of glory than He can see in all His works of creation and of providence. I am not going too far when I say that; for "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied." (Isa. 53:11) Creation was the effect of His power; this, of His sore, soul travail. "Satisfied with such a wretch?" Oh, yes. It is an honour to Him to receive a sinner; He counts it as an honour to Himself to forgive a sinner, to kiss a sinner, to clothe a sinner, to bless a sinner.
v. And lastly, it is meet because of the great change that has taken place in this prodigal. He was dead: yes, dead to all with whom he had lived; and now he is found alive, a living child. What a change! And what a change takes place in us from time to time! from hardness to melting, from rebellion to submission, from rags to the best robe, from doubt to assurance? and from being very weary and footsore with much travelling, to having on us "the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace!" (Eph. 6:15) It is a new creation God sees. Will God call on His children to rejoice in that which He has done and not rejoice in it Himself? "Rejoice for ever in that which I create. For behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing and her people a joy." (Isa. 65:18) And when the worst of sinners is brought again, it is indeed fulfilled. This great change is a divine change, divinely wrought, and is for the glory of Him who has done it. "He that hath wrought us," says Paul, "for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit." (2 Cor. 5:5) It is hard to believe that God can ever take any pleasure in us, as we view ourselves, as we feel our sins, as we look at what we have been, and what we have made ourselves, and with what guilt and shame we have covered ourselves; it is hard, I say, to believe that God can take any pleasure in us; and here I shall be the companion of anyone and everyone who may say the same thing. It is most difficult sometimes to think that the Lord can ever look with the eye of approbation, and pleasure on one who has behaved so basely, so dreadfully, so wickedly. But it is even so. God does look on His people with pleasure, He "taketh in them that fear Him." And He sees His fear when He sees a poor sinner coming; He sees His holy fear in his heart, that clean fear that makes a sinner say, "I have sinned, I have sinned."
The prodigal would call his Father's attention to his condition, when he said to himself, "I will say, Make me as one of Thy hired servants." It was as if he should say to himself, "I will show my rags, and I will prove to a demonstration that I am not fit for the house, that I am not fit for the society of my Father; I will demonstrate it by my rags." But the Father, as I said, chokes down this. "Oh," says He, "he is My son: bring forth the best robe, I will justify him." I like the word that Hart has on the prodigal:
"What treatment since he came?
Love tenderly expressed.
What robe is brought to hide his shame?
The best, the very best."
Heaven's best. Better, wisdom cannot devise. Better, omnipotence and love cannot weave; better, infinite abundance cannot bring forth. "And put a ring on his hand." The hand of faith may be ringless for a long time, but one day it shall have the ring of assurance. "And shoes on his feet" - spoken of in the Scriptures as "the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace," shoes prepared by God. The peace of God in the conscience will be shoes to tender feet on a rough road. Any trouble is bearable, all difficulties you can face, if the peace of God is in your conscience. And they are spoken of as "shoes of iron and brass;" (Deut. 33:25) because the way is rough, very rough, and will wear out all ordinary shoes, but not these. "Bring forth the best robe; bring forth the ring; put shoes on his feet; I have received him safe and sound. He has spent My money, but I have more, - plenteous redemption, free justification, and I will give it to him. He sinned basely against My love, but My love is unchangeable and un-removable; let him know it, let him feel it; let us make merry." And they would sit down to the feast. The Father would be there, and the Son and the Spirit would be there, and this shamed son would be at His right hand; and lest shame and fear should prevail, the Father would say, "Eat, O friends, and drink abundantly, O beloved." (Songs 5:1) So God works in His dear children, and brings them to this blessed state. I do hope that this parable may be made useful to us. It is a very suitable one for sinners, and the instruction of it, if it be written upon the fleshy tables of our hearts, we shall find to be very good, profitable, strengthening, and comforting; and though it may not come with a sudden flash into your soul, like a flood; yet should it distil like the dew, and fall like the small rain upon the tender herb, may God give you power to regard it as so coming, and to thank Him for it. Amen.
By James Popham
Preached At Galeed Chapel, Brighton, 1920 - By J.K. Popham
"And when He is come He will reprove the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment."
The context follows thus: "Of sin because they believe not on Me; of righteousness because I go to My Father and ye see Me no more; of judgment because the prince of this world is judged." It is clear from the Scriptures that God has had ever since the fall of Adam much to do with sin. Men, religious men, prefer to sing cheerfully about love. It is a woeful thing to sing about love before there has been mourning for sin. They talk about liberty and a cheerful religion. Better far to be in bondage and crying to God for His liberty than walk at large ignorant of that thing which God hates.
Before entering upon the text, let me invite your attention to a consideration of the tremendous, awful, just, necessary hatred of God to sin. The holiness of His character makes this necessary. God is holy. Let me name two or three instances of the effect of the revelation of God's holiness on the men to whom it was revealed.
First, of all, Moses at the backside of the desert feeding the flock of his father-in-law. He sees a sight that astonishes him, that attracts him; a bush burning but not consuming, retaining itself, its fullness, yet burning. To have seen a bush burning and consuming might have been an ordinary sight, but here was a bush burning but not consuming, and he turned aside to see the sight so extraordinary, and as he drew near God spoke to him and said: "Moses, Moses, take off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." (Exo. 3:4,5) God was there, and Moses had to bow down, did bow down. Joshua, the successor of Moses as leader and commander of Israel, saw one day near Jericho a man standing with a drawn sword in his hand, and Joshua went up to Him ignorant of who He was and demanded whether this man was for them or against them; and the word came: "Loose thy shoe, take it off, the place where thou standest is holy;" (Joshua 5:15) and Joshua fell down, fell down on his face. Isaiah in the year that King Uzziah died, saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up. He saw above it the seraphims each one having six wings; with twain he covered his face and with twain he covered his feet and with twain he did fly; and all cried and sang, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts," (Isa. 6:1-3) and the effect upon Isaiah was precisely the same as the effect upon Moses and Joshua, and he expressed the effect: "Woe is me for I am undone;" and why? "I have seen the Lord of hosts." Comparing this wondrous experience with the flippant religion of our nature, what a great thing it is to believe in and know the holiness of God; so to believe and to know it as to tremble and fear and quake! One day men who are flippant, confident, joyful, without the knowledge of God and Christ will see that great God, that wondrous Christ coming, and will flee to the mountains and to caves and to dens and cry unto the mountains to fall on them and hide them from the face of Him that cometh and from the wrath of the Lamb. I say these things because it is a very important matter in my own judgment and heart, to have a knowledge of sin, as I said at the beginning. The Scripture shows that God has much to do with sin. He speaks of it, He judges it, He describes it, and mercifully He teaches His people what it is.
In the text we have the work of the Spirit set forth. The context contains a promise of the coming of the Spirit in the event, the expedient event of Christ's going away: "If I go away; that is, if I die and through death go to My Father, if I die and put away sin, it is expedient that then I should take possession of the throne and of heaven in the name of My disciples; and when I go, I will not leave them orphans, comfortless, alone, I will send One to them who shall be with them and come by their side and help them and shall dwell in them. And when He comes He will do a great work; He will make men to whom He comes, in whom He dwells, know what sin is. And so this morning, if the Lord will help me, I shall speak to you about the gloomiest and blackest and the filthiest and the worst thing that exists in earth or in hell, that which depraves men, that which binds devils, that which kindles hellsin; that which is in our hearts whether we know it or notsin. Some may say, "Well but we all know this." I wish we did. And they may say therefore it is unnecessary that it should be dwelt upon. No, if we know it, it is still necessary, for the work of conviction does not end after the first work of grace. It goes on, and on, and on. The word "reproof" means to convince, to convict. By reasonings, by shining in, by proofs of wickedness, we are convinced, we are convicted, we are condemned. And this great work is done by a great God, the Holy Spirit, this blessed Spirit, holy, infinitely holy. He condescends to come and rake into the heart of a sinner and open to him his wickedness; show him the desperate condition of his nature and the condemned condition of himself as a person, a sinful man. He, the Spirit, shall convince of sin.
Sin is missing the mark; that is its first meaning, missing the mark. Missing the mark, that is to say, the end of His creation. Created for God, man soon sought to be for himself, and with his eyes opened Adam turned away from his God, his Creator, his Law-giver. He missed the mark when he became his own object, and sin was at once rooted in him and has ever since been rooted in him. It is in us rooted. But so subtle is it, and so has it blinded our understandings, and so has it warped our wills, and so has it captivated our affections, that we think it not to be what it really is. And this our evil condition is described in the word, "dead in trespasses and sins." (Eph. 2:1,5) As a corpse, void of life, unconscious, incapable of feeling its condition, so is the soul of man, dead to God, unconscious of its condition, without feeling, "past feeling" as Paul has it: "Alienated from the life of God through ignorance and wicked works." (Eph. 4:18) The understanding is darkened and that is why we call evil good and good evil; bitter sweet and sweet bitter; for we have no understanding in things, that is in things that pertain to our best interests, in the things which lock us up in the embrace of death, in the things that fit us for perdition, because they are against God. Sin is the transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4) No law, no sin. "I had not known lust," says Paul, "except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." (Rom. 7:7) Law is a statute, a limitation. It tells a man what to do and what not to do, and that is a limitation, a statute, within which he is to live, if he breaks through he is a transgressor; if he breaks loose and through the hedges, there will be a serpent to bite him. This is sin, and here is the law that says: "Thou shalt not do this; thou shalt do that." It is bad to be a sinner; it is worse, if possible, to be ignorant of that condition.
Now let us look at this great work of the Spirit: "He shall reprove of sin." He shall open to a sinner his condition; He shall show him in some degree what the character of God isholy, holy, holy, and the sight shall have an immediate reflection upon his heart, and in the light thus conveyed the sinner shall see his sins and this shall be a terrible thing to him. It is a terrible thing to see sin in the light and convicting work of the eternal Spirit, the Spirit of God. All the men, all the Christian men in Jerusalem and in Damascus, if they could have been gathered together and had Saul of Tarsus in their midst and had preached Christ to him and produced evidences and proofs from the Scriptures that He who had been crucified recently was the promised Messiahall of them would but have provoked Saul to yet greater excesses of bitterness and desire to persecute. But O, when the light of Christ shined upon Saul and surrounded him with its brilliance and blinded him with its powerful shining, and Saul in reply to the question "Why persecutest thou Me?" heard the voice of the Lord saying to him, "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest," then was a work of conviction! It is nowhere recorded what Paul passed through in those three days during which he was blind and while he fasted, but men in this chapel who have had conviction of sin can understand a little of the anguish of his spirit, the fervent confession of his sin, the cries for mercy, the wonder if mercy would come; for it was a terrible thing that had opened to Saul, he was convinced of his sin.
There is a standard, dear friends, by which we must be judged and that standard is God's character as revealed in the law. That standard says, "Come to this or be lost," and when that standard is brought home to the heart and understanding, then is conviction. A sinner perceives that as a rational creature, God's creature, he ought not to be what he is and ought not to do what he does, and that being what he is against his creation and doing what he does against the law of God, he is a sinner, he is a sinner. He sees it in a light not to be disputed; he feels it in a life he does not understand; he realizes it in a power that presses the conviction in on his conscience and he is convinced. Now this conviction by the Holy Spirit enters into the root of the matter, for you find the law of God thus set forth: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind and with all thy strength. This is the first commandment, and the second is like, namely this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Mark 12:30,31) You see in the words there is no open act referred to at all. It is love that is demanded. It is love that God requires. With all that you are and all the strength you have, you are to love God, and it is love to your neighbor that forbids a selfish act. It is love in your heart to your neighbor equal to the love you have for yourself.
Now the Spirit's light comes down into this, and though you may have been, may be, the most moral person on which no man could lay his hand in the law of this world, you would in the light of the Spirit showing you what the nature of unbelief is, confess yourself to be the most immoral person breathing God's air; for of all the immoralities that exist the root of all, the deepest and worst of all immoralities, you will find to be unbelief. And the light of God shines on it and a man sees it in his heart, and he unites then with the words in the confession of Hart. Speaking of unbelief he says, "Of all my sins the chief." It was the chief and the beginning of Adam's sin. He believed the representation of the devil rather than the commandment of God. He believed that which took hold of his mind. Hitherto pure, absolutely pure, it took hold of his mind, "Ye shall be as gods;" and that shining forbidden fruit took hold of him and he took it, and this was unbelief. Now that conviction of unbelief going right to the very root of the thing brings a person in guilty. This law was before God promulgated the law of the ten commandments. We Gentiles have no excuse. The Apostle Paul in the Romans tells us this: "For we which have not the law" in the manner and form in which the Jews had it, says he, "have the law." We are without law in that peculiar form, but we have the law, and we see the work of the law and know it in our hearts. And the work of the law is this, that it touches the conscience and accusations are therefore the consequence: "Their consciences the meanwhile accusing or excusing one another among themselves." Accusation and excuses held, and that showed the work of the law in the consciences of these people. Ah, and when God does this it is as if His light fetches up from the corners and depths of our hearts our sins, our secret sinshatred of men, hatred of God, unbelief of God, wrong desires, pride of life, lust of the eyes, covetousness which is idolatry, bitterness, hatred which is murder in God's account. These things are opened and when they are opened to a man, then he groans, he sighs, he mourns; God is terrible to Him: "Say unto God, how terrible art Thou in Thy doings to the children of men." (Ps. 66:3) And this terrible business, that is to say, the terror that is occasioned by the work of the Spirit in conviction, every child of God knows in some measure. I am not saying how deep it shall be, how great and how lasting as to bondage felt, but I am saying what the work of the Spirit is, and may we not turn from it. I know there is an impatience of it in man. I know there is a wish to escape it in us, but it is a mercy to be not so. That bright shining that comes to an old man and makes him see things which in his earlier days he saw not; that shows him the extensiveness of sin, the depths of sin, the universality of sin in him; that all his members, his faculties, all his perception, all his understanding and all his affections and all the motions of his will are corrupted, and that he is incapable by nature of doing that which is good. "He shall convince," the Spirit shall do it.
The Spirit does it and it is a matter for thankfulness indeed wherever it is, because it brings the subject of so great, so wonderful a work to justify God, to condemn self. This conviction makes a man honest; it makes him confess to God whatever is discovered. It makes a child of God feel now he can see no word that could possibly be an exaggeration of the evil that is in him. It makes him honest; it makes him fearful; he wonders what God will do. It makes him understand the quaking of Moses on Mount Sinai; the falling flat on his face of Abraham when God came to him; it makes him enter into these things. He says, "Woe is me, woe is me!" Like Job, he said, "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee; wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:5) Job's ditch would be a blessing to some. Job's convictions would be a blessing to some who make a profession of religion. It is not a little mercy. Think who make the promise of the Spirit; think who told those disciples what the work of the Spirit should be, and then can you say it is not a mercy to be convinced? It is a mercy. Do men go to heaven ignorant of the hell they deserve? Do they come to know what it is to be made holy by being ignorant of their pollution? Is a guilty person justified while he is ignorant of his guilt? The Spirit's work is a most necessary work. It takes away self-justification; it makes, as I say, a man honest; it makes him fearful; it produces this sweet work of the Spirit, so bitter in our mouth; it produces strong cries, sincere confessions, and fleeing away from the wrath to come. When you see what sin is, it is dreadful; and when you see against whom you have committed it, it is more dreadful: "Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned and done this evil in Thy sight." (Ps. 51:4)
Now Christ said: "Of sin, because they believe not on Me." I have just said, and this word proves it to my own mind, that unbelief is the greatest immorality in the world. For what can be more immoral than to disbelieve the word and the Person of the Son of God? This is sin. This is the chief of all sin: "They believe not on Me." (John 16:9) Now who can describe fully the exercise and trouble that this work of conviction will produce in a sinner. God is in His holy temple; He has reason to judge a sinner, and when God arises to judge a sinner how can that sinner stand? Think of it, you who have undergone this work and are undergoing it, for it is not done at once. You know what I say is true. It brings great concern. It has some peculiar effects which will distinguish all the subjects of it from heady, high-minded professors.
One is this, sooner or later, there is lodged and rooted in the heart and mind a true sense of helplessness. Paul had it: "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." (Rom. 7:18) When I would pray, then I do not. When I would love, enmity is present. When I would believe, unbelief troubles me and prevails. When I would do good, evil is present with me, and how to perform that which is good I find not; that is, do not know how to do it, have no power to do it. And this helplessness wrought in him this cry: "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Rom. 7:24) I am helpless, I am helpless, who shall deliver me? Is there a hand to help me? Is there a power to deliver me.
It produces hopelessness, not in God's mercy, but in self. "I thank God," said Paul "through Christ Jesus;" there was the victory. Hopelessness in self will be the sure effect. Perhaps it comes gradually, but it comes surely. It becomes rooted in the heart and conscience that in himself a sinner has no hope. He looks at his wrongs and is sorry, but he dare not after a time say, "I will not commit them again." No, the Spirit's convicting work cures a man in time of promising that he will do better in the future than he has done in the past. It brings him to utter hopelessness in himself. His powers are so corrupted, his understanding is so warped, his will is so perverse, that he now knows he can do nothing good, nothing. These are two effects which every child of God finds sooner or later in himself. He is helpless, he is hopeless; and now if there come not another to him, what can prevent the pit from shutting her mouth upon him? Here is the sinner. Talk of goodness in the creature, he says, "I have none." O but men will have it after all, that sincerity will please God! And the sinner says: "I wish I had even a little of that, but I have none of that." What! Yes, hypocrisy is in us. The best child of God would not dare to lift up his face to the Lord and say, "Lord, my sincerity is universal in me; it is prevalent in everything in me." He could say, "I am sincere in my desire to know God and to escape the wrath to come;" but who could dare to say that when he analyses he is constantly and universally sincere? O he is a poor ruined creature! When sin smote us to the earth, it did not half smite us down. When it touched our faculties, it did not half deaden them. When it polluted our nature, it did not leave some spots untouched. The work was complete, we are ruined.
He shall convince us of our enmity of God, that bitter feeling. Why perhaps some here would even now be disposed to say that whatever they are and whatever they possess naturally, they would gladly part with if they could feel one little feeling of love to the Almighty, but it is not there unless put there by the Spirit. "Jesus gives us pure affections." They do not exist in nature fallen. Conviction goes in several directions. First, backward. It went backward in David: "I was shapen in iniquity." (Ps. 51:5) He saw his beginning was wrong: "In sin did my mother conceive me." It comes on through life. Everything we have done was wrong; we see it to be. Something mars what you have done; some bad motive, some wrong aim, some infamous wish, you find to have marred everything you have done. What may shine amongst men is in your own eyes hateful, because of the inward spring of that which was sinful. It goes forward: "What will become of me? Shall I die in my sins?" It goes upward by the moving of the Holy Spirit: "God be merciful to me a sinner." (Luke 18:13) It debases the creature exceedingly; the creature in his desire is lifted up by the Spirit to Jesus Christ to cry for mercy. He is lifted up in his prayers, and though hopeless in himself and though nearing the grave, perhaps after a long profession he says: "Now I have nothing I can look to in myself, nothing I can depend on that I have done, nothing I have done am I pleased with, seeing myself in the light of God's teaching, butand here is a groundbut I hope in God's mercy in Jesus Christ."
And this blessed moving of his spirit and heart by the Holy Ghost brings him to a hope, a sweet hope, and also a believing venture; yes, "I venture all on One." "Naught have we to look unto, but the blood of Jesus." And here begins the dawn of day. I will say in every individual comes the dawn of a Christian's day, the dawn of Jesus Christ, the uprising of Him as the Son of Righteousness, so that the sinner feels, vile and lost though he is, there is in Christ reason for hope, ground for pleading, arguing, wrestling with God in prayer and supplication. Looking in his mind to hell he says, "There I deserve to be." Lifting his eyes in the power of the Spirit heavenward, he says: "There I long to be." Seeing Jesus the Saviour of the lost he says: "In Him I would be found, to Him would I run, on Him depend, to His blood would I go daily for cleaning and for mercy and for forgiveness."
The Spirit's work in conviction then is a saving work. Man may be cut to the heart by some natural feeling about sin and it will be healed and pass away, but when pricked and moved and touched and taught by the Holy Ghost the effect is an abiding effect. It does not pass away, it grows; so grows that the sinner more and more, the longer he lives, becomes convinced of sin. "Say unto God, how terrible art Thou in Thy doings." How terrible is this work, like the skilful surgeon, the Spirit comes and as it were says to the sinner, "This must be probed." The sinner winces, shrinks back, and would avoid the troublesome and painful operation if he could. But no, he is held to it, he must have these probes, and being honest he is brought to say: "Lord, help me to bear it; help me to look at the sight; help me to wait on Thee in it." It is great to be really held to convictions. "O but I am afraid!" You will be, and the more you are convinced, the more fearful of sin you will be, but the more precious will Christ be as He is made known by His good Spirit.
"He shall convince of sin," but "He shall glorify Me, for He shall receive of Mine and shall show it unto you." (John 16:14) Are you lost? He shows a Saviour. Are you naked? He convinces of a righteousness divine. Are you polluted? He opens a fountain and reveals it to a sinner as open. Are you fearful of coming? He says: "Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters." (Isa. 55:1) Are you really hopeless in yourself? He says, "From Me is thy help, in Me is all you need." So this work of the Spirit is very merciful, and it will bring you to value the blessed Rock of Ages and cleave to that and embrace it for want of a shelter. "He shall convince of sin." He shall do it. It is His work and there is mercy in it, unspeakable mercy in this work of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord grant we may not lack it. O think it not a dreadful thing, though in itself full of pain and shame, yet wrought by the Spirit, this conviction is sure to issue in the sweetest consolation, because Christ shall be known as the Friend of sinners.
Now my friends, I must leave this matter. It is solemn; but to escape it, to miss it, to miss the work of the Spirit, if I may so say, the initial step in the life of a Christian, the initial step toward heaven by a pilgrim, what is it? It is death. For how can you take the second step, faith in the Lord Jesus, if you never take this first step? How can you be a believer in redemption, if you are not first a believer in your bondage and your sin? And if you never mourn over sin in you, how can you ever come to rejoice in Christ Jesus? May the Lord then grant this merciful work to be in us, that in the end we may thank Him for His correction which has often perhaps been grievous to us and open the mercy of God through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Preached At Galeed Chapel, Brighton, 1920 - By J.K. Popham
"He shall glorify Me, for He shall receive of Mine and shall show it unto you."
When an architect is about to erect a building he makes provision in his plans for the foundation. He makes provision according to the building he is to erect. If it be but a cottage, a footing will do; if it be a large building the foundation must be according to it. And further, he will consider the nature of the soil on which the building is to be erected. If it be sandy and if the sand be deep, then the foundations must go down. The architect is supposed to be wise, he is supposed to be sufficient for his work. When God will build, and He will, wise wonderful Architect that He is, He makes provision for the foundation and has respect to the nature of the building and of the soil, and He digs deep and reaches the rock before He begins to build. When it pleased God to begin with some of us what did He do? Did He make us rejoice in Christ before we mourned over self? Did we feel glad before He made us sorry? No the text is a very beautiful one, but it has a connection, a context. Go back to the eighth verse on which I made some remarks this morning: "He shall convince of sin." He digs, He finds sand, mud, mire; but He digs, He digs down, He convinces of sin; shows the sinner his nature, shows him his wickedness, his deceitfulness, his lust, his corruption. He alarms him by some thunder of the law. He alarms him by some views given to him of God, of the character of God with whom he has to do. He alarms him by giving him some sense of the evil desert of sin, that it deserves punishment; some view of hell; some view of divine justice; some sense of the power of God who after He hath killed the body hath power to cast into hell. And this work, so painful, so alarming, is necessary; it is like digging the foundation. As if the architect has gone to the site and found the nature of the soil and has said: "Well, we must go down very deep." God, looking at a sinner says, "I must dig deep." It may take years in His sovereignty, it may take years to do it. A little here, a little there, an alarm today, and something tomorrow. A sight of sin, and the eye is held to it till the sinner feels as if he can scarcely live under the sight. Then perhaps a relapse into a carelessness till God comes again and sends some alarm of war in his conscience, and then again he cries out: "What shall I do? Eternity is coming, I am hastening to it, what shall I do? I am wrong and fear I never shall be right, God be merciful to me a sinner." That sinner little thinks what God is doing. What digging, preparing, turning away, casting out, God is doing in order that there may be laid well the Foundation Stone, the tried stone, the precious corner stone. And later the sinner says: "How can I bless God enough for taking such pains with me, convincing me by degrees, and by degrees leading me to a sense of my ruined state? How can I thank Him enough, although I don't know the day when I became concerned? Though I don't know the means by which the work was started, yet now I could but believe it was God's beginning. It has been God's work and I, often distraught, often careless, often wounded, and often seeming to get slightly healed, I am brought now to feel there is one blessed Foundation Stone laid in my heart, that is Jesus Christ. Well dear friends, it may be God's great pleasure toward us, I hope it will be, to lead us to value conviction of sin. May we never undervalue trouble of soul, our own soul; may we never undervalue that digging, that painful alarm that God may be pleased to give us to make us aware of our desperate state by sin, by the fall, by our practice, and by the law of God.
Now the context says still further that the Spirit shall convince of sin because of unbelief. Do you think that Israel with all his idolatrous departures from God, setting up the basest of men to be priests and so forth, ever committed one sin in all the years of its history, black history indeed for the most part - ever committed one sin equal to this, the utter rejection and hatred of Jesus Christ? No, I believe that was the sin of that nation. In type this sin was committed by Israel in the wilderness when they loathed the light food which God daily gave to them from heaven; for that manna was a type of the Bread of life that came down from God. And do people commit this sin today? Christ came to His own nation, and His own nation received Him not, but can people commit this sin today? Let me answer the question by a question. Is it a part of the Bible revelation that God sent His only begotten Son into this world? Yes. And can there be this revelation of God and men trample it under foot and say Christ is not what the Bible declares Him to be; that He is not the absolute and only Saviour that the Bible says He is; that He was not born as the Bible says He was; that His sacrifice was not vicarious as the Bible declares it to have been; that He is not in heaven with His own blood, the only Redeemer and Saviour, as the Bible says He is? Can, I say, men do such and such things with respect to Jesus Christ and be guiltless? No, and they will be convinced of it one day. Blessed be God, some are convinced of it savingly! O what mercy to see that our pride, our indifference, our rejection of the blessed Son of God is our sin! What a mercy to confess and forsake it!
And the Spirit convinces of righteousness "because I go to My Father and ye see Me no more." They said He had a devil, that He was mad, that He cast out devils by the prince of devils, that He blasphemed because He said He was the Son of God and God was His Father. They said that He was a gluttonous man and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. They said all these things about this glorious Person. But He said: "The Spirit shall show men that it is otherwise. My resurrection, My ascension to My Father shall prove that I was, that I am the Son of God and the sent of God, and that My righteousness, the righteousness I wrought out is the only robe for justification; the only covering that a sinner can have to stand him in good stead, to present him as a just person before the presence of My glory."
"Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." The prince of this world was cast out and conquered when Jesus said, "It is finished," and when He arose and ascended into heaven, then He led captivity captive and receive gifts for men; then the prince of this was cast out. Christ saw Him as lightning fall from heaven. There were other things which Christ had to say to His disciples, but which because they were of a spiritual kind, of a kingdom which as yet they little understood, He would not say them now, but afterwards His Spirit should say them to them: "I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come." (John 16:12,13)
He will guide you into all truth. He will open your eyes to see and your ears to hear the things which now you are too carnal to bear. He will do it, for He shall not speak of Himself. He shall not come as if on a completely separate mission, separate from Myself and from My Father; He shall not speak of Himself. He shall not speak with the concurrence of My Father and Myself. He shall come in the fulfilment of a common end, with My Father and Myself and He the Spirit, all of Us. One end, one covenant to open, one mercy to give, one life to impart, one justification to bring, one salvation to work, one heaven to give to those who deserve hell. He shall not speak of Himself; He shall not come on a mission of His own without My Father and Myself; but whatsoever He shall speak, and speak He shall in My name, that you shall hear, and He will show you things to come. Mercies, good things to come and sufferings to come and heaven to come. He shall show you all these things.
And then come the words which I have read for a text: "He shall glorify Me, for He shall receive of Mine and shall show it unto you." The Person of the Holy Ghost is as necessary for salvation as is the Person of Jesus Christ, and the work of the Holy Ghost in sinners is as necessary for salvation as was the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. The Person of the Spirit, the Person of the Holy Ghost and His blessed work, are absolute necessities, even as are the Person and the work of Christ. And the end of His work the text declares; what He is to do, what He shall do the text opens. He is to speak not of Himself, but of another; He is to speak of Christ, He is to glorify Him, set Him up, and receive of things which are Christ's and show them to the wondering eyes of sinners.
Let us look as enabled for a short time at this great matter, the glorifying of Christ in sinners' hearts; for this is what is intended: "And show it unto you." Give you, My disciples, who now while I am with you are unable to bear all that is to be brought to you later; He shall do it, He shall glorify Me.
First of all, He shall glorify Christ in His great work of redemption. The name Redeemer is full of meaning. It is full of liberty, it is full of peace, it is full of heaven, and this is to be made known. Men who are slaves to sin and in bondage to the law of God, are to be redeemed, and by Christ they were redeemed, but they know it not. Indeed, by nature they often are ignorant of their bondage and are quite ready to say with the Jews: "Are we in bondage? We never were in bondage." Among the fiercest of all the controversies in religion that have been waged and carried on for generations, this is one of the greatest, namely the liberty of man. Men will have it that they are free. They will have it that there is no bondage about them, and that no one can coerce them, nothing can coerce; that they are free in all they do. Free in their tongues: "Our lips are our own, who is Lord over us?" (Ps. 12:4) This is our claim, but it is a foolish claim, a false claim; we have no ground at all. Because we are free to come into this chapel this evening, or not to do, according to the choice of our minds, it does not follow that we are free to do good, and to choose good, and to choose God, and to choose what is right. We are slaves, my friends; we are slaves to sin, and God loved some of us. O that it might be made known! He has loved us as we hope, so well, so eternally, as to come and to be our Redeemer. And to be our Redeemer meant this, that He must take our place, our precise place, come exactly into our condition, not of inherent sin, but of imputed sin, and also our place in respect of punishment and death and curse.
And the Spirit glorifies this work of Christ. He sets it high as God said to Moses, "Make a serpent of brass and set it on a pole," (Num. 21:8) there in that wilderness, that arid dangerous place, with men bitten, poisoned, dying. Lift it up, that these dying men looking on it may find a cure. So He will have this gracious One, Jesus Christ, lifted up high above all others, above all men, all remedies. All things shall be beneath Him and He shall be just one alone lifted up in the gospel and in the ministry that the eyes of poor sinners, poor dying creatures shall, as drawn toward Him, see Him and see Him to be the remedy. Not one remedy of many, but the only remedy; not one of many Redeemers, but the only Redeemer. Ah, Christ shall have no peer in this business, no co-operator, no partner in this business! And O when a sinner, sensible of his position and condition, has given to him a sight of this Christ, this Redeemer, having accomplished the whole work on the cross, having said, "It is finished," that sinner looks with wonder and sees everything in Christ that he stands in need of. All that liberty he pants for; that redemption he longs to feel; that peace of conscience he has panted after; that justification he has prayed for; he sees all to be in this Person, in this work. As if he should say: "Now the cross, I see it, the cross is all that I need." The Spirit lifts Him up. O that He would help me to do it properly! He lifts Him up. He says by Paul there shall be no glorying; no flesh shall glory in the presence of the Lord. (1 Cor. 1:29) "Let him that glorieth," He says by Jeremiah, "glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord which exercises righteousness and lovingkindness and mercy in the earth; for in these things do I delight, saith the Lord." (Jer. 9:24)
"He shall glorify Me, He shall receive." The Father gave mercy and life to Christ for His children; gave a revelation to Christ as to what He should speak and what He should do, and now having spoken that and done that, He goes to heaven, and before He goes He says to His disciples: "Now My Spirit whom I will send, the Holy Ghost whom My Father will send, He in the covenant, He in His turn shall receive of Mine. I receive these things from My Father as the Surety. Now My Spirit shall receive them from Me and he shall show them to you." O what a Revealer the Holy Ghost is! You might attain to considerable knowledge in the Scripture by careful reading; you might obtain a considerable degree of notion respecting this Redeemer; you might have some natural rational conviction that what you read in the Scripture of Him is true, and you might make a profession of Him; you might be baptized in His name, and be destitute of this revealing that the Spirit here is to give of Jesus Christ, and all your attainment be just nothing as to profit, just nothing. But O if this divine Person, this glorious Holy Ghost, is pleased to bring and set before you, a mourning sinner, a convinced sinner, the Lord's death, you will see it then and feel it in a light and a life that no natural man can enter into!
"He shall glorify Christ" as the Mediator. There is one God, holy, holy, holy; one God, terrible to sinners, dreadful in His justice, awful in His majesty, unapproachable in His holiness. One God inflexible in His justice; one God eternally awful in His threatenings against sinners. One God omnipotent, able to kill the body and cast the soul into hell. There is one God; yes and we here have to do with Him. We must stand before Him. But what if we are alone? What if we have no Mediator? What if God should come in His naked justice to us, and arraign us and read out our indictment, our sins, open the book written of our life and should read out to our ears what we have done, and no Mediator? O, what has the thought been to some here? No Mediator! I, a poor wretch, to stand before that gaze, that wondrous gaze of God; that pure penetrating eye of God. Now when the Holy Spirit comes to such a sinner and shows him a Mediator, "there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus," (1 Tim. 2:5) that brings hope, that attracts the soul, that seems to the eye of faith to cover the case completely. Here is a sinner, unable to bear God's glory; here between that glory of God and the sinner is the Man Christ Jesus, and this sets Him up. O this makes Him wonderful and beautiful to the sinner! This is one of the ways the Spirit glorifies Christ, magnifies Him before the soul, magnifies His great office of Mediator, so that faith sees all the protection, all the advocacy, all the prevailing arguments that a Mediator can use. He sees the Mediator thus and that proves one of the sweetest attractions, one of the most powerful manifestations a sinner can have. At this part of his experience it is like a new life coming into his heart, a new light into his understanding, and a new feeling of attraction to God. Instead of repulsion there is attraction; a drawing invincible it is. Not a harsh compulsion, but a sweet drawing, and this is that that Christ speaks of when He says: "Every man that hath heard and learned of the Father cometh unto Me." (John 6:45) And how does a man hear and learn of the Father? Why, by the Spirit whom the Father sends in the name of Christ; by the Spirit whom Christ sends. "Whom my friends, no sinner who gets such a sight of Christ shall sink into hell. Christ is between that sinner and the Father; Christ is between that sinner and hell. He may not believe it for a time, but he will really experience it. "He shall glorify Me."
He shall glorify My power. "No man can pluck them, that is My sheep, out of My hand." (John 10:28) A man can pluck you from your notions; he can pluck your Calvinism from your judgment. The devil can pluck your morality from you and he can ruin you in many ways, if permitted. But if you be a weak creature committing yourself by prayer and supplication in the Spirit into the hands, that is the care and protection of Christ, who shall pluck you thence? And the Spirit lifts this poor creature up. You say, it may be very often some of you say to the Lord: "Hold Thou me up and I shall be safe;" (Ps. 119:117) Lord keep me in this hour of danger. Perhaps some man rises up against you, perhaps some violent temptation seizes you, perhaps some trying providence is a danger to you in your sense of the matter, and you are ready to be plucked up, cast down, thrown down, destroyed; and O if the Spirit should let you see, give you to see the Lord God omnipotent reigning; the Man Christ Jesus with all power and authority given to Him in heaven and in earth; to see how He can restrain the wrath of man, how He rules devils, how He sits upon the floods, how He rules the raging of the sea when the waves thereof lift themselves, how He binds the floods from overflowing, how He can control that providence, rule that man, chain that devil, guide you through that difficulty, order that circumstance so that the hell that you now fear shall turn to your good and the glory of God; and that all this power is in Jesus Christ; that will glorify Him. It will set Him up higher than man, higher than devils; set Him up in your affections where God the Father has set Him; "above all principalities and power and might and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this world but in the world to come." (Eph. 1:21) All things are under His control. Then says a sinner, "I will now commit my body, my soul, my family, my circumstances; I will commit my way, and my troubles into His gracious hand. The Spirit glorifies omnipotence, sets it before faith. Who can pluck the sinner from omnipotence, an omnipotent God keeping? "Kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation" (1 Pet. 1:5)kept. We say sometimes, "Myself I cannot save, myself I cannot keep; but strength in Thee I fain would have, whose eyelids never sleep." Here is the sovereign Protector, the mighty, Almighty Jesus. Here is the One who is sent of the Father to preserve alive His children in the wilderness. What if you have to go to some sort of person? If the God of Joseph is with you as He was with Joseph, all will be well. So when He is seen thus, there is no object intervening as it were between you and this uplifted One, this omnipotent Christ.
He will glorify His fullness. The fullness of Christ means eternal life, everlasting righteousness, free forgiveness, perseverance to the end, grace to keep, grace to comfort, peace to console, strength to preserve you, pure life to keep you from the corruption of your nature, power to keep you from the devil, to keep the devil from you, power to bless you in your troubles, fullness to supply you in all your needs, and give you glory afterwards. The fullness of Christ means all that and infinitely more. May He pardon such a poor word about it. The fullness of Christ is celebrated in one of our hymns:
A fullness resides in Jesus our Head,
And ever abides to answer our need."
And there is a redundance in Him. We read of plenteous redemption. There is plenty of everything; and faith sees it, and it lifts Him up. The wife can never say she is poor while her husband has wealth, and the sinner can never properly say he is poor while Jesus is wealthy, has all this fullness, and this mercy, all this goodness; and the Spirit lifts all this up. "He shall glorify Me," and He shall say to a sinner, "Fear not. O fear not your emptiness, fear not your lacks, here is a fullness to supply you!" You may say, "But I have no religion." Christ has plenty to give. You may say, "I have no grace." Christ has plenty to give: "He giveth more grace." You may say, "I have no consistency, I am afraid my inconsistencies will provoke the Lord one of these days to come out against me." Christ has perfection to impute and to impart. Not to excuse wrong in us. He will give reproofs which will show us that. But He has plenty, plenty of everything. The Spirit glorifies Him in His fullness and this mighty strengthens faith, in those in whom it is created, to go to Him. "Large petitions with thee bring." Why? O, says the hymn: "Thou art coming to a King. Thou art coming to a King, large petitions with thee bring; for His grace and power are such, none can ever ask too much."
"He shall glorify the faithfulness of Christ. "I will never leave thee, I will never forsake thee," (Heb. 13:5) is His word. There is one thing we shall never be able to do as God teaches us, namely this, we shall never be able to say to the Lord we have been faithful to Him as we should have been. We are called "treacherous dealers." "I knew thee," said the Lord, "that thou wouldest deal very treacherously;" (Isa. 48:8; 21:2; 24:16) and cannot, have not some of you, some of us many and many a time, had to go in secret and mourn and confess the treacherous dealings of our hearts to God? O but there is a faithful One who says to a faithless sinner, "I will never leave thee!" Thou hast cast thyself upon Me, I will never cast thee off; thou hast professed that thou hast no hope but in Me, I will never disappoint that hope; thou hast come poor and lost, I will never, never leave thee to ruin." And He is faithful, He is as good as His word, my friends, and better than our expectations, better than all we can think of Him. In this particular as in others, He is better than we can think. He has no disposition to give up His word. It is His character, that He cannot lie. He has no reason in circumstances to give up His word, to forego His promise. We may be quite honest in making a promise and quite sincere in desiring to make it good; but there may be reasons, there may be circumstances over which we can have no control, to prevent our fulfilling that we have said we will do. But there is no reason in our circumstances why God should not fulfil His word to us. O but my sins! Did He not know them? "I knew thee that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, I knew it." "But since in love I took thee in, My promise I'll fulfil. I will never leave thee. I will guide thee with Mine eye, and afterwards receive thee to glory. I will sustain thee, I will hold thee up with the right hand of My righteousness." O what a promising God some of us have, blessed be His name! And now in a world of faithlessness, and a world of faithless people, a poor church that can never boast of consistency, a poor sinner who says, "Lord I have been faithless through all," there is One lifted up high above all, and this is His name: "the Faithful Witness, the Faithful God." This is His promise: "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Does it fit, my friends? But these circumstances? He knows them all. They are as much at His bidding as is the storm. Therefore it is one of the Spirit's blessed works in men to glorify the faithfulness of Jesus Christ, and this He is to show and shall show it unto you; let you see it by faith, that it shall not be a matter of speculation with you, but of faith, faith in the bleeding Lamb, faith in Him whose name is Faithful.
And lastly, He shall glorify My glory, He shall set My glory up. It shall be seen how glorious I am, and He shall so show it to His children that they shall enter into what the Apostle Paul says in the Corinthians: "We all with open face beholding as in glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Cor. 3:18) What an amazement it is to a sinner when he gets a view of the glory of Christ, of His Person, of His work, of His love, of His precious atonement, of His divine righteousness! He gets a view of it. He does not think about it simply, he really sees it. It is set before his eyes as that that God has shown to him, he sees it, and it has an effect upon him. It puts His own image upon him. Not that he sees himself having this glory so as to boast and be proud, but it comes upon his soul and God sees it there. God sees in His children often what they see not in themselves. They see this glory. But also they see that which they are to go and inherit one day: "Partner of My throne shall be." Partner of Christ's throne. O, frequently conquered sinner, think of it! Partner of the throne of the Conqueror, the King of kings and Lord of lords! And this is set before the eyes of poor believers who feel themselves such unbelievers as to be oppressed often and distressed. He shall receive of Mine. All these infinite mercies, blessings, favours, which Jesus Christ is full of, His Spirit shall take and open and show to sinners, demonstrate them; set them before a man with clearness so that though he may know but little, He can say: "Now I do just know that. I have seen the Lord; I have seen His redeeming work, it has fitted me as a captive; I have seen the fountain of His merit, it has fitted me as a guilty creature; I have seen his goodness, it has fitted me as one utterly bad and wicked. It is not speculation, it is a knowledge, a blessed knowledge that the Holy Spirit gives of Jesus Christ. May the Lord give it to us for His great name's sake.
Now dear friends in conclusion, let me press this on your notice, that there is no one in heaven or in earth can effectually convince us of sin but the Spirit, it being His work, His appointed work; and there is no one in heaven and in earth who can glorify Jesus Christ in the heart of a sinner, but that Spirit whose appointed work it is to do it. And therefore may we who are convinced of sin, who need a Saviour, be led to cry mightily to this Holy Ghost that He would condescend to lift up Christ that we may view Him. That the poison of sin, the arrows of the Almighty, the workings of indwelling corruption may be seen, all of them, to be under the hand of this Redeemer, this sufficient, this wondrous, the glorious Redeemer. May the Lord bless you, my friends, and grant that whatever you lack you may not lack this. Amen.