‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.’ Hebrews 10:31
Suggested Further Reading: Romans 5:6–11
It is the highest benevolence to warn men of their danger, and to exhort them to escape from the wrath which will surely come upon them, for ‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.’ We feel that it must be a fearful thing to be punished for sin when you remember the atonement. It is our full belief as Christians, that, in order to pardon human sin, it was necessary that God himself should become incarnate, and that the Son of God should suffer excruciating pains, to which the dignity of his person added infinite weight. Brethren, if the wrath of God be a mere trifle, there was no need of a Saviour to deliver us; it were as well to have let so small a matter take its course; or, if the Saviour came merely to save us from a pinch or two, why is so much said in his praise? What need for heaven and earth to ring with the glories of him who would save us from a small mischief? But mark the word. As the sufferings of the Saviour were intense beyond all conception, and as no less a person than God himself must endure these sufferings for us, that must have been an awful, not to say infinite evil, from which there was no other way for us to escape except by the bleeding and dying of God’s dear Son. Think lightly of hell, and you will think lightly of the cross. Think little of the sufferings of lost souls, and you will soon think little of the Saviour who delivers you from them. God grant we may not live to see such a Christ-dishonouring theology dominant in our times.
For meditation: As Spurgeon feared, vital and inseparable biblical doctrines such as the atonement and eternal damnation have come under tremendous attack in recent years in favour of more sophisticated teaching which is more acceptable to human taste. The Bible contrasts the words of the holy prophets and the apostles of our Lord, with the words of ‘scoffers, walking after their own lusts’ (2 Peter 3:2–3). Beware of people who twist the Scriptures to suit themselves (2 Peter 3:16–17).
Sermon no. 682 24 March (1866)
‘If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.’ 1 Corinthians 15:19
Suggested Further Reading: Titus 2:11–14
The most practical thing in all the world is the hope of the world to come; and you see the text teaches this, for it is just this which keeps us from being miserable; and to keep a man from being miserable, let me say, is to do a great thing for him, for a miserable Christian—what is the use of him? Keep him in a cupboard, where nobody can see him; nurse him in the hospital, for he is of no use in the field of labour. Build a monastery, and put all miserable Christians in it, and there let them meditate on mercy till they learn to smile; for really there is no other use for them in the world. But the man who has a hope for the next world goes about his work strong, for the joy of the Lord is our strength. He goes against temptation mighty, for the hope of the next world repels the fiery darts of the adversary. He can labour without present reward, for he looks for a reward in the world to come. He can suffer rebuke, and can afford to die a slandered man, because he knows that God will avenge his own elect who cry day and night unto him. Through the Spirit of God the hope of another world is the most potent force for the product of virtue; it is a fountain of joy; it is the very channel of usefulness. It is to the Christian what food is to the vital force in the animal frame. Let it not be said of any of us that we are dreaming about the future and forgetting the present, but let the future sanctify the present to highest uses.
For meditation: It was this hope that marked the lives of even the Old Testament heroes of faith (Hebrews 11:10,13–16,35). But what men and women of action they were in God’s service! Who would dare accuse them of being dreamers and of being no earthly use?
“Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.” Deuteronomy 10:14-16
Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 45:1-13
Preaching a few months ago in the midst of a large congregation of Methodists, the brethren were all alive, giving all kinds of answers to my sermon, nodding their heads and crying,“Amen!” “Hallelujah!” “Glory be to God!” and the like. They completely woke me up. My spirit was stirred, and I preached away with an unusual force and vigour; and the more I preached the more they cried, “Amen!” “Hallelujah!” “Glory be to God!” At last, a part of text led me to what is styled high doctrine. So I said, this brings me to the doctrine of election. There was a deep drawing of breath. “Now, my friends, you believe it;” they seemed to say “No, we don’t.” But you do, and I will make you sing “Hallelujah!” over it. I will so preach it to you that you will acknowledge it and believe it. So I put it thus: Is there no difference between you and other men? “Yes, yes; glory be to God, glory!” There is a difference between what you were and what you are now? “Oh, yes! oh, yes!” There is sitting by your side a man who has been to the same chapel as you have, heard the same gospel, he is unconverted, and you are converted. Who has made the difference, yourself or God? “The Lord!” said they, “the Lord! Glory! Hallelujah!” Yes, cried I, and that is the doctrine of election; that is all I contend for, that if there is a difference the Lord makes the difference. Some good man came up to me and said, “Thou’rt right, lad! thou’rt right. I believe thy doctrine of election; I do not believe it as it is preached by some people, but I believe that we must give the glory to God; we must put the crown on the right head.”
For meditation: The doctrines of God give God all the glory. The doctrines of man seek to steal some of God’s glory to give to man instead (Isaiah 42:6-8).
Sermon no. 303 12 March (Preached 11 March 1860)