CHRIST THE BELIEVER’S REFUGE – George Whitefield

SERMON LIX

CHRIST THE BELIEVER’S REFUGE

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble; therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, and the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea, though the waters thereof roar, and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof, Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High: God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, and that right early. Psalm 46:1–6.

There was a tradition among the ancient Jews, that the manna which came down from heaven, though it was a little grain like coriander-seed, yet suited every taste; as milk unto babes, and strong meat to grown persons. Whether this supposition be founded on fact or not, the observation will hold good in a great measure respecting the sayings of David, for if we have eyes to see, and ears to hear, if God has been pleased to take away the veil from our hearts, we shall find, by happy experience, that let our circumstances be what they will, the book of Psalms may serve as a spiritual magazine, out of which we may draw spiritual weapons in the time of the hottest fight, especially those that are under trouble, when the hand of the Lord is gone seemingly forth against them; when unbelief is apt to make them say, All these things are against me! if we can have the presence of mind to turn to the book of Psalms, we may find something there suitable to our case, a word to refresh us in pursuing our spiritual enemy. This is true of the 46th psalm in particular, part of which I have just now read to you, and which I pray the blessed Spirit of God to apply to every one of our hearts. It is uncertain at what time, or upon what occasion, David wrote it; probably under some sharp affliction, which made him eloquent; or when the affliction was over, when his heart was swimming with gratitude and love, and when out of the fulness of it his pen was made the pen of a ready writer. It was a favourite psalm with Luther; for whenever Melancthon, who was of a melancholy turn, or any other of his friends, told him some sad news, he used to say, Come come, let us sing the 46th psalm; and when he had sung that, his heart was quiet. May every true mourner here, and afflicted person, experience the same; I know not, when I read it, which to admire most, the piety or the poetry, the matter or the manner; and I believe I may venture to defy all the critics on earth to shew me any composition of Pindar or Horace, that any way comes up to the diction of this psalm, considered only as human: he that hath an ear to hear, let him hear, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Stop here, my friends, let us pause a while, and before we go further, may the Lord help us to draw some comfort from this very first verse: for observe, it is not said God is my refuge; David says so in another psalm, but he says here, God is our refuge: he speaks in the plural number, implying, that this psalm was of no private interpretation, but was intended for the comfort and encouragement of all believers, till time shall be no more. Observe the climax, God is our refuge, is one degree; God is our strength, another; God is our help, and not only so, but is a present help, yea, is a very present help, and at a time when we want it most, in the time of trouble. It is here supposed, that all God’s people will have their troubles, man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward; and if we are born to trouble as men, we are much more so as Christians. We forget ourselves, and the station in which God has placed us, when we so much as begin to dream of having much respite from trouble while we are here below. The decree is gone forth, like the laws of the Modes and Persians, it alters not; through tribulation, through much tribulation, we must all go; but blessed be God, we are to be carried through it; and blessed be God, glory is to be the end of it: may God give us to know this by happy experience! In the world, says our blessed Lord, ye shall have tribulation, tribulation and trouble of different kinds; and in another place, If any man will come after me, says he, let him take up his cross daily, and follow me; so that the day, when we take up no cross, we may say as Titus did, when he reflected that he had done no good that day, I have lost a day! But then what shall we do, my dear hearers, when trouble comes, when one trouble comes after another, and afflictions seem to pursue us wherever we go, seem to arise up out of the ground, meet us as we are walking along? Why, blessed be God, if we have an interest in Christ (mind that, if we have an interest in Christ,) God is our help, God is our asylum, our city of refuge, a place appointed by God himself, to which the pursued saints may fly by faith, and be safe. The wicked have no notion of this: when they are in trouble, what is their refuge? Let a soul be under spiritual trouble, and cry out, what shall I do to be saved? Let him go to a carnal minister, an unconverted wretch, that knows nothing about the matter, he shall be told, Oh! go, and play an innocent game at cards, and divert yourself:—that is to say, the devil must be your refuge. Worldly people have worldly refuges; and Cain would seem as if he were in earnest when he said, My punishment is greater than I can bear: what does he do, he goes and diverts himself by building a city, goes and amuses himself by building. The devil, my brethren, will give you leave to amuse yourselves; you may have your choice of diversions, only take care to be diverted from God, and the devil is sure of you; but the believer has something better: faith sweeps away the refuge of lies, and the believer turns to his God, and says, O my God, thou shalt be my refuge. The devil pursues me, my false friends have designs against me, my own wicked heart itself molests me, my foes are those of my own house; but do thou, O God, be my refuge, I will fly there; by these it may be said, God is our refuge. The question is, what shall I do to make him my refuge? How shall be helped to do so? You bid me fly; you say, I may fly there, but where shall I get wings? How shall I be supported? Here is a blessed word, God shall not only be our refuge, but God shall be our strength also. Strength, what is strength? Why, my brethren, to make every day of trouble so easy to us by his power, as to carry us through it; God has said, and will stand to it, As thy day is, so shall thy strength be. Afflictions even at a distance will appear very formidable, when viewed by unbelief. Our fears say, O my God, if I come to be tried this or that way, how shall I bear it? But we do not know what we can bear till the trial comes; and we do not know what strength God can give us, or what a strong God he will be, till he is pleased to put us into a furnace of affliction; and therefore it is said, not only that God is our refuge and our strength, but that God is our help also. What help? Why, my dear friends, help to support us under the trouble; help so as to comfort us as long as the trouble lasts; and, blessed be God, that the help will never leave us till we are helped quite over and quite thro’ it. But what kind of an help is it? O blessed be God, he is a very present help. We may have a helper, but he may be afar off; I may be sick, I may want a physician, and may be obliged to send miles for one; he might he a help if he were here, but what shall I do, now he is at a distance? This cannot be said of God, he is not only a help, but he is a present help: the gates of the new Jerusalem are open night and day. We need not be afraid to cry unto God; we cannot say of our God as Elijah does of Baal, perhaps he is asleep, or talking, or gone a journey: it is not so with our God, he is a present help; he is likewise a sufficient help, that is, a very present help, and that too in the time of trouble. It is but to send a short letter, I mean a short prayer, upon the wings of faith and love, and God, my brethren, will come down and help us. Now, to this David affixes his probatum est, David proves it by his own experience, and therefore if God is our refuge, therefore if God is our strength, if God is our help, if God is a present help, if God is a very present help, and that too in a time of trouble, what then? Therefore will we not fear.—Therefore, is an inference, and it is a very natural one, a conclusion naturally drawn from the foregoing premises; for Paul says, if God be for us, who can be against us? There is not a greater enemy to faith, than servile fear and unbelief. My brethren, the devil has got an advantage over us when he has brought us into a state of fear; indeed, in one sense we should always fear, I mean with a filial fear; blessed is the man, in this sense, that feareth always: but, my brethren, have we strong faith in a God of refuge? This forbids us to? fear; says Nehemiah, Shall such a man as I flee? And the Christian may say, Shall a believer in Jesus Christ fear? Shall I fear that my God will leave me? Shall I fear that my God will not succour me? No, says David, we will not fear; how so? Why, though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea, though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Where is Horace, where is Pindar, now? Let them come here, and throw their palms down before the sweet singer of Israel. There is not such a bold piece of imagery in any human composition in the world. Can any thing appear more great, more considerable, than this? Imagine how it was with us some years ago, when an enthusiastic fool threatened us with a third earthquake; imagine how it was with us when God sent us the same year two dreadful earthquakes: had the earth been at that time not only shook, but removed, had the fountains of the sea been permitted to break in upon us, and carry all the mountains of England before it, what a dreadful tremor must we all unavoidably have been in? David supposes that this may be the case, and I believe at the great day it will be something like it; the earth, and all things therein, are to be burnt up; and, my brethren, what shall we do then, if God is not our refuge, if God is not our strength?

We may apply it to civil commotions; David had lately been beset with the Philistines and other enemies, that threatened to deprive him of his life; and there are certain times when we shall be left alone. This also, my brethren, may be applied to creature comforts: sometimes the earth seems to be removed, what then? Why, all the friends we take delight in, our most familiar friends, our soul-friends, friends by nature, and friends by grace, may be removed from us by the stroke of death; we know not how soon that stroke may come, it may come at an hour we thought not of; the mountains themselves, all the things that seem to surround and promise us a lasting scene of comfort, they themselves may soon be removed out of our sight; what then shall we do? They may be carried into the midst of the sea; what is that? Our friends may be laid in the silent grave, and the places that knew them may know them no more. It is easy talking, but it is not so easy to bear up under these things; but faith, my brethren, teaches us to say, Though all friends are gone, blessed be God, God is not gone. As a noble lady’s daughter told her mother, when she was weeping for the death of one of her little children, a daughter four years old, said, Dear mamma, is God Almighty dead, that you cry so long after my sister?—No, he is not dead, neither does he sleep. But here the imagery grows bolder, the painting stronger, and the resemblance more striking, though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof; what, will not this make us fearful? will not this shake us off our bottom, our foundation, and take up the roots? No, no, even then the believer need not fear; why, God is in the midst of her. Do not you remember God spake to Moses out of the bush? Did he stand at a distance, and call to him at a distance from the bush? No, the voice came out of the bush, Moses! Moses! as Mr. Ainsworth, who ways a spiritual critic, says.

Learn from hence, that in all our afflictions God is afflicted; he is in the midst of the bush; and oh! it is a sweet time with the soul when God speaks to him out of the bush, when he is under affliction, and talks to him all the while. Though it were threatened by the fire which surrounded it with immediate and total desolation; yet the bush burned, and was not consumed. I do not know whether I told you, but I believe I told them at Tottenham-court, and perhaps here, that every Christian has got a coat of arms, and I will give it you out of Christ’s heraldry, that is, the burning bush; every Christian is burned, but not consumed. But how is it the saint is held up, whence does he get this strength? or how is this strength, this supporting, comforting strength, conveyed to his heart? Read a little further, you shall find David say, there is a river, mind that, there is a river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High; need I tell you, that probably here is an allusion to the situation of Jerusalem, and the waters of Shiloah, that flowed gently through the city of Jerusalem, which the people found sweet and refreshing in the time of its being besieged. So the rivers run through most of the cities in Holland, and bring their commodities even to the doors of the inhabitants. Pray, what do you think this river is? Why, I believe it means the covenant of grace; O, that is a river, the springs of which first burst out in Paradise, when God said, the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head; then God made this river visit the habitation of man, as the first opening of his everlasting covenant.

No sooner had the devil betrayed man, and thought he was sure to get him into the pit, even when he was laughing at man’s misery, and thinking he was revenged of God for driving him out of heaven; at that very time did the great God open this river, and made it flow down in that blessed stream to mankind, implied in those words, it shall bruise thy head. O this is a stream, which, I pray, may this night make glad this part of the city of God. If by the river we understand the covenant of grace, then, my brethren, the promises of God are the streams that flow from it. There is no promise in the Bible made to an unbeliever, but to a believer; all the promises of God are his, and no one knows, but the poor believer that experiences it, how glad it makes his heart. God only speaks one single word, or applies one single promise: for if when one’s heart is overwhelmed with sorrow, we find relief by unfolding ourselves to a faithful disinterested friend; if a word of comfort sometimes gives us such support from a minister of Christ, O my friends, what support must a promise from God applied to the soul give? And this made a good woman say, I have oft had a blessed meal on the promises, when I have had no bread to make a meal for my body.

But by the river we may likewise understand, the Spirit of the living God. If you remember, Jesus Christ declared at the great day of the feast, if any man believe on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water; this, saith the beloved disciple, spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive. My brethren, the divine influences are not only a conduit, but a deep river, a river of broad waters. Here is room for the babes to walk, and for the man of God to bathe and swim in from time to time; and supposing that the river mean the Spirit of God, as I believe really it does, why, then the streams that flow from this river are the means of grace, the ordinances of God, which God makes use of as channels, whereby to convey his blessed Spirit to the soul. Nay, by the river we may understand God himself, who is the believer’s river, the Three-One, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This river is in the midst of the city, not at the court-end of the town only, or one corner or end, but quite through, in a variety of streams, so that high and low may come to it for supply; and not only be supported, but have their hearts made glad daily thereby: God help us to drink afresh of this river! If this be the case, well may David triumph and say, glorious things are spoken of the city of God; are spoken of her, in the feminine gender. The church is spoken of in that sense, because Eve, the first woman, was the mother of all believers; we may apply this to a single saint, as well as to a community, under trouble, she shall not be moved. Not moved? Pray, would you have them stupid? Do you love, when you strike a child, to see it hardened and regardless? Do you not like the child should smart under it and cry, and when it is a little penitent, you almost wish you had not struck it at all. God expects, when he strikes, that we should be moved; and there is not a greater sign of a reprobate heart, of a soul given over by God, to have affliction upon affliction, and yet come out like a fool brayed in a mortar, unmoved and hardened. My brethren, this is the worst sign of a man or woman’s being given over by God. Jesus was moved, when he was under the rod; he cries, Father! if it be possible, let this cup pass from me! he was moved so as to shed tears, tears of blood, falling to the ground. Woe, woe, woe be to us, if when God knock at the door by some shocking domestic or foreign trial, we do not say, My God! my God! wherefore dost thou strike? When we are sick, we allow physicians to feel our pulse, whether it be high or languid; and when we are sick and tried with affliction, it is time to feel our pulse, to see if we were not going into a high fever, and do not want some salutary purge. It is expected therefore that we should be moved; we may speak, but not in a murmuring way; Job was moved, and God knows, when we are under the rod, we are all moved more than we ought to be, in a wrong way; but when it is said here, she shall not be moved, it implies, not totally removed; perplexed, says the apostle, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; therefore removal means destruction: when the earth is moved, the mountains shake, and the waters roar, where can we flee? What can we see but destruction all round us? But, my brethren, since there is a river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God, since God is our refuge, since God is our strength, since God is our help, since God is a present help, since God is a very present help in the time of trouble, since God is in the midst of her, since God causes the streams to make her glad, blessed be God, we shall not, my brethren, be totally moved; nay, though death itself do remove our bodies, though the king of terrors, that grisly king, should come armed with all his shafts, yet in the midst of death we are in life, even then we shall not be moved; even though the body be removed in sleep, the soul is gone where it shall be sorrowful no more. One would have imagined that David had said enough, but pray observe how he goes on, he repeats it again, for when we are in an unbelieving frame we have need of line upon line, words upon words, God shall help her: ah! but when? when? when will he help her? when will he help her? why, right early; God shall help her, and that right early. Why, sometimes we knock for a friend, but he will not get up early in the morning, but God shall help us, and that right early, in the morning. Ah! but, say you, I have been under trouble a long while; why, God’s morning is not come: you said right early; yes, but you are not yet prepared for it, you must wait till the precious right moment come, and you may be assured of it. God never gives you one doubt more than you want, or ever defers help one moment longer than it ought to be.

Now, my dear hearers, if these things are so, who dares call the Christian a madman? If these things are so, who would but be a believer? Who would not be a faithful follower of the Son of God? My brethren, did you ever hear any of the devil’s children compose an ode, that the devil is our refuge; the god of this world, whom we have served so heartily, we have found to be a present help in time of trouble? Ah! a present help to help us after the devil: or did you ever hear, since the creation, of one single man that dared to say, that all the forty-sixth psalm was founded on a lie? No, it is founded on matters of fact, and therefore, believer, believer, I wish you joy, although it is a tautology. I pray God, that from this time forth till we die, you and I, when under trouble, may say with Luther, Come let us sing the forty-sixth psalm.

As for you that are wicked, what shall I say to you? Are you in high spirits to-night? has curiosity brought you here to hear what the babbler has to say on a funeral occasion? Well, I am glad to see you here, though I have scarce strength to speak for the violence of the heat, yet I pray God to magnify his strength in my weakness; and may the God of all mercy over-rule curiosity for good to you! I intend to speak about this death to the surviving friends; but, my dear hearers, the grand intention of having the funeral sermon to-night, is to teach the living how to die. Give me leave to tell you, that however brisk you may be now, there will a time come when you will want God to be your help. Some pulpit may ere long be hung in mourning for you; the black, the dreary appendages of death, may ere long be brought to your home; and if you move in a high sphere, some such escutcheon as this, some achievement, may be placed at your door, and woe, woe, woe be to those who in an hour of death cannot say, God is my refuge. You may form schemes as you please; after you have been driven out of one fool’s paradise, you may retreat into another; you may say, now I will sing a requiem to my heart, and now I shall have some pleasant season; but if God love you, he will knock off your hands from that, you shall have thorns even in roses, and it will imbitter your comforts. O what will you do when the elements shall melt with fervent heat; when this earth, with all its fine furniture, shall be burnt up; when the archangel shall cry time shall be no more! whither then, ye wicked ones, ye unconverted ones, will ye flee for refuge? O, says one, I will fly to the mountains: O silly fool, O silly fool, fly to the mountains, that are themselves to be burnt up and moved! O, says you, I will flee to the sea; O you fool, that will be boiling like a pot: O then I will flee to the elements; they will be melting with fervent heat. I can scarce bear this hot day, and how can you bear a hot element? There is no fan there, not a drop of water to cool your tongue. Will you fly to the moon? That will be turned into blood: will you stand by one of the stars? They will fall away: I know but of one place you can go to that is, to the devil; God keep you from that! Happy they that draw this inference; since every thing else will be a refuge of lies, God help me from this moment, God help me to make God my refuge! here you can never fail; your expectations here can never be raised too high; but if you stop short of this, as the Lord liveth, in whose name I speak, you will only be a sport for devils; a day of judgment will be no day of refuge to you, you will only be summoned like a criminal, that has been cast already, to the bar, to receive the dreadful sentence, Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. There is no river to make glad the inhabitants of hell, no streams to cool them in that scorching element: were those who are in hell, to have such an offer of mercy as you have, how would their chains rattle! how would they come with the flames of hell about their ears! how would they rejoice, even there, if a minister were to tell them, Come, come, after you have been here millions and millions of years, there shall come a river here to make you glad. But the day is over; God help us to take warning: and, oh! with what gratitude should we approach him to-night, for bearing with, and for forbearing us so long; let each say to-night, why am I out of hell? How came I not to be damned, when I have made every thing else my god, my refuge, for so many years? May goodness lead every unconverted soul to repentance, and may love constrain us to obedience: fly, fly, God help thee to fly, sinner; hark! hear the word of the Lord, see the world consumed, the avenger of blood, this grim death, is just at thy heels, and if thou dost not this moment take refuge in God, to-night, before to-morrow, you may be damned for ever; the arms of Jesus yet lie open, his loving heart yet streams with love, and bids a hearty welcome to every poor soul that is seeking happiness in God. May God grant that every unconverted soul may be of the happy number!

But, my brethren, the most heavy task of this night yet lies unperformed; indeed, if my friendship for the deceased did not lead me to it, I should pray to be excused; my body is so weak, my nerves so unstrung, and the heat beats too intensely on this tottering frame, for me to give such a vent to my affections as I am sure I should give, if I were in vigorous health: you may easily see, though I have not made that application, with what design I have chosen this psalm; you may easily see by the turn, I hope no unnatural one, that has been given to the text as we have passed along, that I have had in my view a mournful widow here before me. Did I think, when this black furniture was taken from the pulpit when two branches were lopt off within about a year one after another, both lopt off from on earth, I hope and believe, to be planted for ever in heaven; little did I think that the axe was in a few months’ time to be laid to the root of the father; little did I think that this pulpit was then to be hung in mourning for the dear, the generous, the valuable, the universally benevolent, Mr. Beckman; a benefactor to every body, a benefactor to the tabernacle; he has largely contributed Doth to the chapel and tabernacle, and, my dear hearers, now his works follow him, for he is gone beyond the grave. Such a singular circumstance I believe rarely happens, that though I was last night, at near eleven o’clock, dead almost with heat, I thought if death were the consequence, I would go to the grave, and have the last look at my dear departed friend: to see a new vault opened; to see a place of which he has been, in a great measure, the founder; to see a place which he was enlarging at the very time he died; to see a new vault there, first inhabited by the father, and two only sons, and all put there in the space of two years’ time: Oh! it was almost too much for me, it weighed me down, it kept me in my bed all this day; and now I have risen, God grant it may be to give a seasonable word to your souls. Oh! my friends, put yourselves in the state of a surviving widow, and then see who is secure from cutting providences. The very children, when they are young, are a trial; but the young man, for whom a handsome fortune awaited; for a tender loving father, to have his son taken away; for the widow, to have the husband taken away soon after; indeed, dear madam, you had need read the forty-sixth psalm; you may well say, call me no more Naomi, that signifies pleasant, but call me Marah, for the Lord hath dealt bitterly with me. These are strokes that are not always given to the greatest saints. Such sudden strokes, such blow upon blow, Oh! if God is not a strength and refuge, how can the believer support under it? But blessed be the living God, I am witness God has been your strength, I am witness that God has been your refuge; you have found, I know you have, already, that there is a river, a river in which you have swam now for some years, the streams whereof make glad your waiting heart. Surely I shall never forget the moment in which I visited your deceased husband, when the hiccoughs came, and death was supposed to be really come, to see the disconsolate widow flying out of the room, unable to bear the sight of a departing husband: I know that God was then your refuge, and God will continue to be your refuge. You are now God’s peculiar care, and as a proof that you will make God your refuge, you have chosen to make your first appearance in the house of God, in the tabernacle, where I hope God delights to dwell, and where you met with God, and which I hope you will never leave till God removes you hence. Whatever trials way yet await you, remember you are now become God’s peculiar care. You had before a husband to plead for you; he is gone, but your pleader is not dead, he lives, and will plead your cause: may you find him better to you than ten thousand husbands; may he make up the awful chasm that death has made, and may the Lord God be your refuge in time, and your portion to all eternity; and then you will have a blessed change. You are properly a Naomi; I would humbly hope that your daughter-in-law, which so lately met with a stroke of the same nature, will prove a Ruth to you, and though young, and having a fortune, she may be tempted to take a walk in the world, yet I hope she will say, where thou goest, I will go; where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried; the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. It is to your honour, madam, and I think it right to speak of it, you had the smiles of your departed father-in-law; you had behaved with deference and love; he was very fond of you; God make you a comfort to your surviving mother, who has adopted you, and may the Lord Jesus Christ enable you to take God to be your portion!

As for you that are the relations of the deceased, there is one of you that has been honourably called to the service of the ministry: you, sir, was sent for over by an endearing uncle, you have been a stranger in a strange land: the Palatines will bless your ministry; God has, I hope, blessed it, and provided you a place to preach in. May God grant that that church may be filled with his presence and his glory; and you, madam, be made the instrument of sending the news to heaven to your husband, that this and that man was born of God there. As for you, the other friends of the deceased, may God grant that when you die, and when you are buried, the people may follow you with tears as they did dear Mr. Beckman last night. I was told by one this morning, that walked along with the funeral, that it was delightful to hear what the people said when the coffin passed by; they blessed the person contained therein: Oh! he was a father to the poor. The poor have indeed lost a friend; and I believe there has not been a man, a tradesman in London, for these many years, that has been more lamented than the dear man who now, I hope, is at rest. You well know how mindful he has been of you, and that soon after the decease of his disconsolate widow, his substance will be divided among some of you. Give me leave to charge and entreat you, by the mercies of God in Jesus Christ, to be kind to the honoured widow. Do not say, Mr. Beckman my uncle is dead, come pluck up, let us plague her now she is living, we shall have all when she is dead. The plague of God will follow you, if you do: if you valued your dear uncle, do all you can to make her life easy; pay her that respect which you would pay the deceased were he now living; this will shew your love is genuine and not counterfeit, and do not lay up wrath against the day of wrath. Follow the example of your dear deceased uncle; the gentleman was visible in him, as well as the Christian; he would be in his warehouse early in the morning, that he might come soon to his country-house, and there employ himself in his friendly life, and open the door to the disciples of Jesus.—It is time to draw to an end, but I will speak a word to the servants of the family, who have lost a good and a dear master. May the Lord Jesus Christ be your Master for ever, that you may be the Lord’s servants, however you may be disposed of in this world; that you may meet your master, your mistress, and all the family, in the kingdom of the living God, then we shall have a whole eternity to reflect upon the goodness of a gracious God. O may God help us to sing the forty-sixth psalm; may we find him to be our strength and our refuge, a very present help in the time of trouble; may the river of the living God make glad your hearts, and may you be with God to all eternity; even so, Lord Jesus, Amen and Amen.


George Whitefield Puritans Sermons

Christ Is All – C. H. Spurgeon

“CHRIST IS ALL”

A Sermon

Published on Thursday, June 16th, 1904,

delivered by

C. H. SPURGEON,

at the metropolitan tabernacle, newington,

On Lord’s-day Evening, June 4th, 1876.

“Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.”—Colossians 3:11.

Paul is writing concerning the new creation, and he says that, in it, “There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all.” The new creation is a very different thing from the old one. Blessed are all they who have both seen the kingdom of heaven and entered into it. In the first creation, we are born of the flesh; and that which is born of the flesh is, even at the best, nothing but flesh, and can never be anything better; but, in the new creation, we are born of the Spirit, and so we become spiritual, and understand spiritual things. The new life, in Christ Jesus, is an eternal life, and it links all those who possess it with the eternal realities at the right hand of God above.

In some respects, the new creation is so like the old one that a parallel might be drawn between them; but, in far more respects, it is not at all like the old creation. Many things are absent from the new creation, which were found in the old one; and many things, which were accounted of great value in the first creation, are of little or no worth in the new; while many distinctions, which were greatly prized in the old creation, are treated as mere insignificant trifles in the new creation. The all-important thing is for each one of us to put to himself or herself the question, “Do I know what it is to have been renewed in knowledge after the image of him who creates anew? Do I know what it is to have been born twice, to have been born again, born from above, by the effectual working of God the Holy Spirit? Do I understand what it is to have spiritually entered a new world wherein dwelleth righteousness?” It is concerning this great truth that I am going to speak; and, first, I shall say something upon what is obliterated in the new creation; and, secondly, upon what stands in its stead.

  1. First, as to what is obliterated in the new creation: “There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free.”

That is to say, first, in the kingdom of Christ, there is an obliteration of all national distinctions. I suppose there will always be national distinctions, in the world, until Christ comes, even if they should all be terminated then. The mischief was wrought when men tried to build the city and tower, in the plain of Shinar, and so brought Babel, or confusion into the world. The one family became transformed into many,—a necessary evil to prevent a still greater one. The unity at Babel would have been far worse than the confusion has ever been, just as the spiritual union of Babylon, that is, Rome, the Papal system, has been infinitely more mischievous, to the Church and to the world, than the division of Christians into various sects and parties could ever have been. Babel has not been an altogether unmitigated evil; it has, no doubt, wrought a certain amount of good, and prevented colossal streams of evil from reaching a still more awful culmination. Still, the separation is, in itself, an evil; and it is, therefore, in the Lord’s own time and way, to be done away with; and, spiritually, it is already abolished. In the Church of Christ, wherever there is real union of heart among believers, nationality is no hindrance to true Christian fellowship. I feel just as much love toward any brother or sister in Christ, who is not of our British race, as I do toward our own Christian countrymen and countrywomen; indeed, I sometimes think I feel even more the force of the spiritual union when I catch the Swiss tone, or the French, or the German, breaking out in the midst of the English, as we often do here, thank God. I seem to feel all the more interest in these beloved brethren and sisters because of the little difference in nationality that there is between us. Certainly, brethren, in any part of the true Church of Christ, all national distinctions are swept away, and we “are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.”

Under the Christian dispensation, the distinction or division of nationality has gone from us in this sense. We once had our national heroes; each nation still glories in its great men of the heroic age, or in its mythical heroes; but the one Champion and Hero of Christianity is our Lord Jesus Christ, who has slain our dragon foes, routed all our adversaries, broken down the massive fortress of our great enemy, and set the captives free. We sing no longer of the valiant deeds of our national heroes,—St. George, St. Andrew, St. Patrick, St. Denis, and the other “saints” so-called, who were either only legendary, or else anything but “saints” as we understand the term. We sing the prowess of the King of all saints, the mighty Son of David, who is worthy of our loftiest minstrelsy. King Arthur and the knights of the round table, we are quite willing to forget when we think of “another King, one Jesus,” and of another table, where they who sit are not merely good knights of Jesus Christ, but are made kings and priests unto him who sits at the head of the festal board. Barbarian, Scythian, Greek, Jew,—these distinctions are all gone so far as we are concerned, for we are all one in Christ Jesus. We boast not of our national or natural descent, or of the heroes whose blood may be in our veins; it is enough for us that Christ has lived, and Christ has died, and Christ has “spoiled principalities and powers,” and trampled down sin, death, and hell, even as he fell amid the agonies of Calvary.

Away, too, has gone all our national history, so far as there may have been any desire to exalt it for the purpose of angering Christian brethren and sisters of another race. I wish that even the names of wars and famous battlefields could be altogether forgotten; but if they do remain in the memories of those of us who are Christians, we will not boast as he did who said, “But ’twas a famous victory;” nor will we proudly sing of—

“The flag that braved a thousand years

The battle and the breeze.”

As Christians, our true history begins—nay, I must correct myself, for it had no beginning except in that dateless eternity when the Divine Trinity in Unity conceived the wondrous plan of predestinating grace, electing love, the substitutionary sacrifice of the Son of God for the sins of his chosen people, the full and free justification of all who believe, and the eternal glory of the whole redeemed family of God. This is our past, present, and future history; we, who are Christians, take down the Volume of the Book wherein these things are written, and we make our boast in the Lord, and thus the boasting is not sinful.

As to laws and customs, of which each nation has its own, it is not wrong for a Christian to take delight in a good custom which has been long established, or earnestly to contend for the maintenance of ancient laws; which have preserved inviolate the liberty of the people age after age; but, still, the customs of Christians are learned from the example of Christ, and the laws of believers are the precepts laid down by him. When we are dealing with matters relating to the Church of Christ, we have no English customs, or French customs, or American customs, or German customs; or, if we have, we should let them go, and have only Christian customs henceforth. Did our Lord Jesus Christ command anything? Then, let it be done. Did he forbid anything? Then, away with it. Would he smile upon a certain action? Then, perform it at once. Would he frown upon it? Then, mind that you do the same. Blessed is the believer who has realized that the laws and customs for the people of God to observe are plainly written out in the life of Christ, and that he has become to us, now, “all, and in all.”

Christ, by giving liberty to all his people, has also obliterated the distinctions of nationality which we once located in various countries. One remembers, with interest, the old declaration, “Romanus sum,” (“I am a Roman,”) for a citizen of Rome, wherever he might be, felt that he was a free man whom none would dare to hurt, else Roman legions would ask the reason why; and an Englishman, in every country, wherever he may be, still feels that he is one who was born free, and who would sooner die than become a slave, or hold another man or woman in slavery. But, brethren and sisters, there is a higher liberty than this,—the liberty wherewith Christ has made his people free; and when we come into the Church of God, we talk about that liberty, and we believe that Christians, even if they had not the civil and religious rights which we possess, would still be as free in Christ as we are. There are still many, in various parts of the world, who do not enjoy the liberties that we have; who, notwithstanding their bonds, are spiritually free; for, as the Son hath made them free, they are free indeed.

Christ also takes from us all inclination or power to boast of our national prestige. To me, it is prestige enough to be a Christian;—to bear the cross Christ gives me to carry, and to follow in the footsteps of the great Cross-bearer. What is the power, in which some boast, of sending soldiers and cannon to a distant shore, compared with the almighty power wherewith Christ guards the weakest of us who dares to trust him? What reason is there for a man to be lifted up with conceit just because he happens to have been born in this or that highly-favoured country? What is such a privilege compared with the glories which appertain to the man who is born again from above, who is an heir of heaven, a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, and who can truthfully say, “All things are mine, and I am Christ’s, and Christ is God’s”?

What is the wondrous internationalism that levels all these various nationalities in the Church of Christ, and makes us all one in him? Spiritually, we have all been born in one country; the New Jerusalem is the mother of us all. It is not my boast that I am a citizen of this or that earthly city or town here; it is my joy that I am one of the citizens of “a city which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God.” Christ has fired all of us, who are his people, with a common enthusiasm. He has revealed himself to each one of us as he doth not unto the world; and, in the happy remembrance that we belong to him, we forget that we are called by this or that national name, and only remember that he is our Lord, and that we are to follow where he leads the way. He has pointed us to heaven, as the leader of the Goths and Huns pointed his followers to Italy, and said, “There is the country whence come the luscious wines of which you have tasted. Go, and take the vineyards, and grow the vines for yourselves;” and so they forgot that they belonged to various tribes, and they all united under the one commander who promised to lead them on to the conquest of the rich land for which they panted. And now, we, who are in Christ Jesus, having tasted of the Eshcol clusters which grow in the heavenly Canaan, follow our glorious Leader and Commander, as the Israelites followed Joshua, forgetting that we belong to so many different tribes, but knowing that there is an inheritance reserved in heaven for all who follow where Jehovah-Jesus leads the way.

The next thing to be observed, in our text, is that ceremonial distinctions are obliterated. When Paul says that “there is neither circumcision nor uncircumcision,” he recalls the fact that, under the law, there were some who were peculiarly the children of promise, to whom were committed the oracles of God; but there is no such thing as that now. Then there were others, who stood outside the pale of the law,—the sinners of the Gentiles, who were left in darkness until their time for receiving the light should come; but Christ has fused these two into one; and, now, in his Church, “there is neither Greek nor Jew.” I marvel at the insanity of those who try to prove that we are Jews,—the lost ten tribes, forsooth! I grant you that the business transactions of a great many citizens of London afford some support to the theory, but it is only a theory, and a very crazy one, too. But suppose they were able to prove that we are of the seed of Abraham, after the flesh, it would not make any difference to us, for we are expressly told that “there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision,” for all believers are one in Christ Jesus. The all-important consideration is,—Are we Christians? Do we really believe in Jesus Christ, to the salvation of our souls? The apostle truly says, “Christ is all,” for he has done away with all the distinctions that formerly existed between Jews and Gentiles. He has levelled down and he has levelled up. First he has levelled down the Jews, and made them stand in the same class as the Gentiles, shutting them up under the custody of the very law in which they gloried, and making them see that they can never come out of that bondage except by using the key of faith in Christ. So our Lord Jesus has stopped the mouths of both Jews and Gentiles, and made them stand equally guilty before God; for, on the other hand, he has levelled up the outcast and despised Gentiles, and has admitted us to all the privileges of his ancient covenant, making us to be heirs of Abraham, in a spiritual sense, “though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not.” He has given to us all the blessings which belong to Abraham’s seed, because we, too, possess like precious faith as the father of the faithful himself had. So, “now in Christ Jesus we who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace.” Oh, what a blessing it is that all national and ceremonial distinctions are gone for ever, and that “Christ is all” to all who believe in him!

A more difficult point, perhaps, is that of social distinctions; but that also has gone from the Church of Christ. “There is neither bond nor free,” says the apostle. Well, blessed be God, slavery has almost ceased to exist. Among Christians, it has become a by-word and a proverb, though there was a time when some of them pleaded for it as a divinely-ordained institution. But, oh, may the last vestige of it speedily disappear, and may every man see it to be both his duty and his privilege to yield to his brother-man his God-given rights and liberties! Yet, even in such a free country as ours happily is, there are still distinctions between one class and another, and I expect there always will be. I do not suppose there ever can be, in this world, any system, even if we could have the profoundest philosophers to invent it, in which everybody will be equal. Or, if they ever should be all equal, they would not remain so for more than five minutes. We are not all equal in our form, and shape, and capacity, and ability; and we never shall be. We could not have the various members of our body all equal; if we had such an arrangement as that, our body would be a monstrosity. There are some members of the body which must have a more honourable office and function than others have; but all the members are in the body, and necessary to its due proportion. So is it in the Church of Christ, which is his mystical body; yet, brethren, how very, very minute are the distinctions between the various members of that body! You, my brother, are rich, as the world reckons riches. Well, do not boast of your wealth, for riches are very apt to take to themselves wings, and fly away. Probably, more of you are poor so far as worldly wealth is concerned. Well, then, do not murmur, for “all things are yours” if you are Christ’s; and, soon, you will be where you will know nothing of poverty again for ever and ever. True Christianity practically wipes out all these distinctions by saying, “This man, as one of Christ’s stewards, has more of his Lord’s money entrusted to him than others have, so he is bound to do more with it than they do with their portion; he must give away more than they do.” This other man has far less than his rich brother, but Christ says that he is responsible for the right use of what he hath, and not for what he hath not. As the poor widow’s two mites drop into the treasury of the Lord, he receives her gift with as sweet a smile as that which he accorded to the lavish gifts of David and Solomon. In his Church, Christ teaches us that, if we have more than others, we simply hold it in trust for those who have less than we have; and I believe that some of the Lord’s children are poor in order that there may be an opportunity for their fellow-Christians to minister to them out of their abundance. We could not prove our devotion to Christ, in practical service such as he best loves, if there were not needy ones whom we could succour and support. Our Lord has told us how he will say, in the great day of account, “I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat;” but that could not be the case if there was not one of the least of his brethren, who was hungry, and whom we could feed for his sake. “I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink.” But he could not say that if none of his poor brethren were thirsty. “I was sick, and ye visited me.” So, there must be sick saints to be visited, and cases of distress, of various kinds, to be relieved; otherwise, there could not be the opportunity of practically proving our love to our Lord. In the Church of Christ, it ought always to be so, brethren; we should love each other with a pure heart fervently; we should bear each other’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ; and we should care for one another, and seek, as far as we can, to supply one another’s needs. The rich brother must not exalt himself above the poor one, nor must the poor Christian envy his richer brethren and sisters in Christ; for, in him, all these distinctions are obliterated, and we sit down, at his table, as members of the one family of which he is the glorious and ever-living Head; and we dwell together in unity, praising him that national, ceremonial, and social distinctions have, for us, all passed away, and that “Christ is all, and in all.”

  1. Possibly, I have taken up too much of our time in describing what is obliterated from the old creation; so, now, I will try more briefly to show you what takes its place in the new creation: “Christ is all, and in all.”

First, Christ is all our culture. Has Christianity wiped out that grand name “Greek”? Yes, in the old meaning of it; and, in some senses, it is a great pity that it is gone, for the Greek was a cultured man, the Greek’s every movement was elegance itself, the Greek was the standard of classic beauty and eloquence; but Christianity has wiped all that out, and written, in its place, “Christ is all.” And, brethren, the culture, the gracefulness, the beauty, the comeliness, the eloquence,—in the sight of the best Judge of all those things, namely, God, the ever-blessed,—which Christ gives to the true Christian, is better than all that Greek art or civilization ever produced, so we may cheerfully let it all go, and say, “Christ is all.”

Next, Christ is all our revelation. There was the “Jew”;—he was a fine fellow, and there is still much to admire in him. The Semitic race seems to have been specially constituted by God for devout worship; and the Jew, the descendant of believing Abraham, is still a firm believer in one part of God’s Word; he is, spiritually, a staunch Conservative in that matter, the very backbone of the world’s belief. Alas, that his faith is so incomplete, and that there is mingled with it so much tradition received from his fathers! Will you wipe out that name “Jew”? Yes, because we, who believe in Jesus, glory in him even as the Jew gloried in having received the oracles of God. Christ is “the Word of God” incarnate, and all the divine revelation is centered in him; and we hold fast the eternal verities which have been committed unto us, because of the power of Christ that rests upon us.

Then, next, Christ is all our ritual. There is no “circumcision” now. That was the special mark of those who were separated from all the rest of mankind; they bore in their body undoubted indications that they were set apart to be the Lord’s peculiar possession. Someone asks, “Will you do away with that distinguishing rite?” Yes, we will; for, in Christ, every true Christian is set apart unto God, marked as Jesus Christ’s special separated one by the circumcision made without hands.

Further, Christ is all our simplicity. Here is a man, who says that “uncircumcision” is his distinguishing mark, and adds, “I am not separated or set apart from others, as the so-called ‘priest’ is; I am a man among my fellow-men. Wherever I go, I can mingle with others, and feel that they are my brethren. I belong to the ‘uncircumcision.’ Will you rule that out?” Yes, we will, because we have, in Christ, all that uncircumcision means; for he who becomes a real Christian is the truest of all men; he is the most free from that spirit which says, “Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou.” He is the true philanthropist, the real lover of men, even as Christ was. He was no separatist, in the sense in which some use that word. He went to a wedding feast; he ate bread in the house of a publican; and a woman of the city, who was a sinner, was permitted to wash his feet with her tears. He mingled with the rest of mankind, and “the common people heard him gladly;” and he would have us to be as he was, the true Man among men, the great Lover of our race.

Once more, Christ is all our natural traditions, and our unconquerableness and liberty. Here is “the rude barbarian”, as the poet calls him; he says, “I shall never give up the free, manly life that I have lived so long. By my unshorn beard,” for that is the meaning of the term Barbarian, “I swear it shall be so.” “By the wild steppes and wide plains, over which I roam unconquerable,” says the Scythian, “I will never bend to the conventionalities of civilization, and be the slave of your modern luxuries.” Well, it is almost a pity to have done with Barbarians and Scythians, in this sense, for there is a good deal about them to be commended; but we must wipe them all out. If they come into the Church of Christ, he must be “all, and in all;” because everything that is manly, everything that is natural, everything that is free, everything that is bold, everything that is unconquerable will be put into them if “Christ is all” to them. They will get all the excellences that are in that freedom, without the faults appertaining to it.

Further, “Christ is allas our Master, if we bebond.” I think I see, in the great assembly at Colosse, which Paul addressed, one who said, “But I am a bond slave; a man bought me at the auction mart, and here, on my back, are the marks of the slave-holder’s lash.” And I think I hear him add, “I wish that disgrace could be wiped out.” But Paul says, “Brother, it is wiped out; you are no bond slave, really, for Christ has made you free.” Then the great apostle of the Gentiles comes, and sits down by his side, and says to him, “The Church of Christ has absorbed you, brother, by making us all like you; for we are all servants of one Master; and look,” says Paul, as he bares his own back, and shows the scars from his repeated scourgings, “from henceforth let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” “And so,” says he, laying his hand on the poor Christian slave, “I, Paul, the slave of Jesus Christ, share your servitude, and with me you are Christ’s free man.”

Lastly, Christ is our Magna Charta; yea, our liberty itself if we befree.” Here comes the free man, who was born free. Shall that clause stand, “neither bond nor free”? Oh, yes, let it stand; but not so stand that we glory in our national freedom, for Christ has given us a higher freedom. I may slightly alter the familiar couplet, and say,—

“He is the free man whom the Lord makes free,

And all are slaves beside.”

Oh, what multitudes of people, in London, are slaves;—miserable slaves to the opinions of their neighbours,—slaves to the caprice of Mrs. Grundy,—slaves to “respectability”! Some of you dare not do a thing that you know to be right, because somebody might make a remark about it. What are you but slaves? Ay, and there are slaves in the pulpit, every Sunday, who dare not speak the truth for fear somebody should be offended; and there are also slaves in the pews, and slaves in the shops, and slaves all around. What a wretched life a slave lives! Yet, till you become a Christian, and know what it is to wear Christ’s bonds about your willing wrists, you will always feel the galling fetters of society, and the bonds of custom, fashion, or this or that. But Jesus makes us free with a higher freedom, so we wipe out the mere terrestrial freedom, which is too often only a sham, and we write, “Christ is all.”

So, to conclude, remember that, if you have Christ as your Saviour, you do not need anybody else to save you. I see an old gentleman, over there in Rome, with a triple crown on his head. We do not want him, for “Christ is all.” He says that he is the vicegerent of God; that is not true; but if it were, it would not matter, for “Christ is all,” so we can do without the Pope. Then I see another gentleman, with an all-round dog collar of the Roman kennel type; and he tells me that, if I will confess my sins to him as the priest of the parish, he can give me absolution; but, seeing that “Christ is all,” we can do without that gentleman as well as the other one; for anything that is over and above “all” must be a superfluity, if nothing worse. So is it with everything that is beside or beyond Christ; faith can get to Christ without Pope or priest. Everything that is outside Christ is a lie, for “Christ is all.” All that is true must be inside him, so we can do without all others in the matter of our soul’s salvation.

But supposing that we have not received Christ as our Saviour, then how unspeakably poor we are! If we have not grasped Christ by faith, we have not laid hold of anything, for “Christ is all;” and if we have not him who is all, we have nothing at all. “Oh!” says one, “I am a regular chapel-goer.” Yes; so far, so good; but if you have not Christ, you have nothing, for “Christ is all.” “But I have been baptized,” says another. Ah! but if you have not savingly trusted in Christ, your baptism is only another sin added to all your others. “But I go to communion,” says another. So much the worse for you if you have not trusted in Christ as your Saviour. I wish I could put this thought into the heart of everyone here who is without Christ,—nay, I pray the Holy Spirit to impress this thought upon your heart,—if you are without Christ, you are without everything that is worth having, for “Christ is all.”

But, Christians, I would like to make your hearts dance by reminding you that, if you have Christ as your Saviour, you are rich to all the intents of bliss, for you have “all” that your heart can wish to have. Nobody else can say as much as that; the richest man in the world has only got something, though the something may be very great. Alexander conquered one world; but you, believer, in getting Christ as yours, have this world and also that which is to come, life and death, time and eternity. Oh, revel in the thought that, as Christ is yours, you are rich to an infinity of riches, for “Christ is all.”

Now, if Christ really is yours, and as Christ is all, then love him, and honour him, and praise him. Mother, what were you doing this afternoon? Pressing that dear child of yours to your bosom, and saying, “She is my all”? Take back those words, for they are not true. If you love Christ, he is your all, and you cannot have another “all.” Someone else has one who is very near and very dear. If you are that someone else, and you have said in your heart, “He is my all,” or “She is my all,” you have done wrong, for nothing and no one but Christ must be your “all.” You will be an idolater, and you will grieve the Holy Spirit, if anything, or anyone, except Christ, becomes your “all.” You, who have lately lost your loved ones, and you, who have been brought low by recent losses in business, are you fretting over your losses? If so, remember that you have not lost your “all.” You still have Christ, and he is “all.” Then, what have you lost? Yes, I know that you have something to grieve over; but, after all, your “light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;” therefore, comfort yourself with this thought,—“I have not really lost anything, for I still have all.” When you have all things, find Christ in all; and when you have lost all things, then find all things in Christ. I do not know, but I think that the latter is the better of the two.

Now, if Christ be all, then, beloved brethren and sisters, let us live for him. If he is all, let us spend our strength, and be ready to lay down the last particle of it that we have, and to die for him; and then let us, whenever we need anything, go to him for it, for “Christ is all.” Let us draw upon this bank, for its resources are infinite; we shall never exhaust them.

Lastly, and chiefly, let us send our hearts right on to where he is. Where our treasure is, there should our hearts be also. Come, my heart, up and away! What hast thou here that can fill thee? What hast thou here that can satisfy thee? Plume thy wings, and be up and away, for there is thy roosting-place; there is the tree of life which never can be felled. Up and away, and build there for ever! The Lord help each one of you to do so, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

 

C. H. Spurgeon, “‘Christ Is All,’” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 50 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1904), 289–298. Public Domain

Sermons Spurgeon

Be Set Apart – Chris Grazor

Pastor Chris, Anchor Bible Church, Plymouth, MN, has been teaching from 1 Thessalonians. In part 4, Paul presents a very clear plan on how to abstain from sexual immorality as we obey the will of God, which is our sanctification … listen below as Pastor Chris speaks from 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8.

Be Set Apart part 4 – audio

3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;

4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,

5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;

6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.

7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.

8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. – 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 (ESV)

Bible Teachings Sermons

Learning to Love Like the Savior – Paul Twiss

Professor Twiss, a prior professor of mine at The Master’s University, preached a sermon on Learning to Love Like the Savior at Grace Community Church earlier this year. In my daily devotion today on 1 Cor 13:4-7, further reading pointed to 1 John 3. This reminded me of this sermon. I pray you will blessed as you hear from the Word of the Lord in this message today.

 

1 John 3:11–18 (NASB95):

11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another;
12 not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.
13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you.
14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.
15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?
18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

Sermons