I have always considered, with Luther and Calvin, that the sum and substance of the gospel lies in that word Substitution,–Christ standing in the stead of man. If I understand the gospel, it is this: I deserve to be lost for ever; the only reason why I should not be damned is, that Christ was punished in my stead, and there is no need to execute a sentence twice for sin. On the other hand, I know I cannot enter Heaven unless I have a perfect righteousness; I am absolutely certain I shall never have one of my own, for I find I sin every day; but then Christ had a perfect righteousness, and He said, “There, poor sinner, take My garment, and put it on; you shall stand before God as if you were Christ, and I will stand before God as if I had been the sinner; I will suffer in the sinner’s stead, and you shall be rewarded for works which you did not do, but which I did for you.”
—Autobiography, Vol. 1, 113.
So then beloved, in all times of depression of spirit hasten away to the Lord Jesus Christ; whenever the cares of this life burden you, and your way seems hard for your weary feet, fly to your Lord. There may be, and there are, other sources of consolation, but they will not at all times serve your turn; but in Him there dwelleth such a fulness of comfort, that whether it be in summer or in winter the streams of comfort are always flowing. In your high estate or in your low estate, and from whatever quarter your trouble may arise, you can report at once to him and you shall find that he strengthens the hands that hang down and confirms the feeble knees.
–“Christ the Overcome of the World,” MTP 22:1327 (1876).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, remind us to fly to your Son. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
There must be heart in our faith, and the Spirit of God breathing in it, or it will not be the living faith of a living child of God. Being alive, true faith must not sleep, but must arouse itself as a child of the day, for a slumbering faith is matter for heart-searching, since sleep is cousin to death. A wakeful faith becomes active, and in its activity lies much of its proof. “By their fruits ye shall know them” is one of Christ’s own rules for testing men and things, and we are to know faith by that which comes of it, by what it does for us, and in us, and through us. Faith is not worth having if it is fruitless; it has a name to live and is dead. If it works not at all, it lives not at all, and cannot justify its possession. A dead God may be served by a dead faith, but living, waking, working faith can alone please the ever-living, ever-working Jehovah. God save us from a dreaming faith and a talking faith, and give us “faith which worketh.”
— “Faith Working Through Love,” MTP 26:1533
But among a more respectable class of people, who do not drink and who observe the Sabbath-day, you will have a number of people who remain in the church, though they have no secret piety, no real love to Christ, no private prayer; and hence there is all the more danger. Now, dear friends, what we cannot do, and must not try to do, Jesus Christ will do easily enough. The shepherd when he comes will soon separate his sheep from the goats. His eye of fire will read each heart; the hypocrites in the church will tremble in a moment, instinctively reading the meaning of that glance, as Christ will by that eye say to them, “What do ye here amongst my people?”
–“The Final Separation,” MTP 21:1234
Prayer: Heavenly Father, just because we attend services does not mean we are part of your people? May you search our hearts to see if there be any stain of hypocrisy in us and lead us to repentance from sin and toward your dear Son, in whose name we pray. Amen.
I could not believe that it was possible that my sins could be forgiven. I do not know why, but I seemed to be the odd person in the world. When the catalogue was made out, it appeared to me that, for some reason, I must have been left out. If God had saved me, and not the world, I should have wondered indeed; but if He had saved all the world except me, that would have seemed to me to be but right. And now, being saved by grace, I cannot help saying, “I am indeed a brand plucked out of the fire!” I believe that some of us who were kept by God a long while before we found Him, love Him better perhaps that we should have done if we had received Him directly; and we can preach better to others, we can speak more of His lovingkindness and tender mercy. John Bunyan could not have written as he did if he had not been dragged about by the devil for many years. I love that picture of dear old Christian. I know, when I first read The Pilgrim’s Progress, and saw in it the woodcut of Christian carrying the burden on his back, I felt so interested in the poor fellow, that I thought I should jump with joy when, after he had carried his heavy load so long, he at last got rid of it; and that was how I felt when the burden of guilt, which I had borne so long, was for ever rolled away from my shoulders and my heart.
–From Volume 1 of Spurgeon’s Autobiography, published January 1, 1897, p. 103.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, while I do not understand how you could ever forgive my sins, I am thankful that through Christ that atonement was purchased. May we never forget the joy of that freedom you provided. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
My dear friends, we live to-day upon the verge of that bright spot. The world has been passing through these clouds of darkness, and the light is gleaming on us now, like the glintings of the first rays of morning. We are coming to a brighter day, and “at evening time it shall be light.” The clouds and darkness shall be rolled up as a mantle that God needs no longer, and he shall appear in his glory, and his people shall rejoice with him. But you must mark, that all the brightness was the result of this child born, this son given, whose name is called Wonderful; and if we can discern any brightness in our own hearts, or in the world’s history, it can come from nowhere else, than from the one who is called “Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God.”
From the sermon, “His Name–Wonderful” (1858).
Prayer: Praise be to God that this wonderful Child, this Counselor, this Mighty God condescended to us in human flesh in order to make us more like Himself. Praise be to God that we do not merely celebrate this truth at Christmastime, but for all time and eternity. Dark clouds at times fill our skies, but Christ’s light breaks through. Thank you, Jesus, for rescuing us from our sin and brokenness!
There are two kinds of condemnation: the one is the condemnation of the elect, which takes place in their hearts and consciences, when they have the sentence of death in themselves, that they should not trust in themselves—a condemnation which is invariably followed by peace with God, because after that there is no further condemnation, for they are then in Christ Jesus, and they walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. The second condemnation is that of the finally impenitent, who, when they die, are most righteously and justly condemned by God for the sins they have committed—a condemnation not followed by pardon, as in the present case, but followed by inevitable damnation from the presence of God. On both these condemnations we will discourse this morning. God is clear when he speaks, and he is just when he condemns, whether it be the condemnation which he passes on Christian hearts, or the condemnation which he pronounces from his throne, when the wicked are dragged before him to receive their final doom.
From his sermon “Unimpeachable Justice,” NPSP 2:86
Prayer: May you, Heavenly Father, be glorified in Your perfect justice.
May the Lord here, while he uses human instrumentality, yet let you all see that “it is not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord.” This has indeed been my mission, to shew the power of God in human weakness. I do acknowledge and confess what is so continually said of me. “The man is not educated.” Granted. “His periods are unpolished.” Granted. “His manner is rough.” “Be it so, if you will. “Himself a fool.” Ay, amen, and what else you choose. Gather together all the epithets in the catalogue of abuse — come, heap them here. But who hath done this, who hath saved souls, and called the people to this footstool? Why, if the instrument be mean the more glory be to him that used it, and if the man be nothing, “I glory in infirmity, that the power of God may rest upon me.” Make me less and less; I pray you do it; let it be so; but still, O God, use thou this poor ox-goad, make it still mighty to the slaying of Philistines, and make thy Word still a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Let the Lord fill the house, and the man will be forgotten.
From the sermon “Temple Glories” (1861).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for using us earthen vessels for your glory. In Christ’s name. Amen!
The one thing I ask–never come here to gratify your curiosity. You that are members of other congregations, just consider it your duty to stay at home. There are many stray sheep about. I would rather have them than you. Keep to your own place. I do not want to rob other ministers. Do not come here from charity. We are much obliged to you for your kindly intentions. But we would rather have your seat than your company if you are members of other Churches. We want sinners to come–sinners of every sort. But do not let us have that sort of men whose ears are everlastingly itching for some new preacher–who are saying, “I need something else, I need something else.”
–Spurgeon, preached June 3, 1855 after the return of the congregation to the newly renovated New Park Street Chapel after a brief sojourn to Exeter Hall.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give us a love for our own churches of which we are members. We are not consumers of entertainment and curiosities, but followers of Jesus who support their own covenant community of believers. May our aim be to reach “sinners of every sort,” not simply to sit in our benches to hear sermons that tickle our itching ears. And may we think of our pastors who labor hard among their own sheep whom Christ has entrusted to him. In Jesus’ Name. Amen!