What is Abiding in Christ?

 

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:5-6 ESV

Abiding in Christ is holding steady in the presence of Christ trusting his promises by faith irrespective of the challenges, trials, and tribulations of our lives. Remaining in faith and looking to Christ to be our sufficiency in the midst of our inadequacies keeps us in his constant, conscious presence. Only by abiding can our ministry efforts have outcomes that will last for eternity.

To abide in Jesus is never to quit Him for another love or another object, but to remain in living, loving, conscious, willing union with Him. The branch is not only ever near the stem but ever receiving life and fruitfulness from it. All true believers abide in Christ in a sense; but there is a higher meaning, and this we must know before we can gain unlimited power at the throne.

C. H. Spurgeon, Cheque Book of the Bank of Faith: Daily Readings (Geanies House, Tain, Ross-Shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1996), 54.

When our Lord says: ‘Abide in me, and I in you,’ He points to something analogous to this. ‘Abide in me’: that refers more to that which we have to do. We have to trust and obey, to detach ourselves from all else, to reach out after Him and cling to Him, to sink ourselves into Him. As we do this, through the grace He gives, a character is formed, and a heart prepared for the fuller experience: ‘I in you,’ God strengthens us with might by the Spirit in the inner man, and Christ dwells in the heart by faith.

Andrew Murray, The True Vine (Chicago: Moody Press, n.d.), 35.

It’s About a Person!

 

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

1 Cor. 1:30-31 NKJV

Duh, Christianity is a person–that is obvious! Or is it? How often we forget that Christianity is about a love relationship with Jesus. We get involved in every discussion of liturgy, theology, and ethics, but we forget that Christianity is about being in love with Jesus. Liturgy, theology, and ethics are valuable in their own right, but they cannot be a substitute for an experiential love relationship with Jesus.

Our faith is a person; the gospel that we have to preach is a person; and go wherever we may, we have something solid and tangible to preach, for our gospel is a person. If you had asked the twelve Apostles in their day, ‘What do you believe in?’ they would not have stopped to go round about with a long sermon, but they would have pointed to their Master and they would have said, ‘We believe him.’ ‘

But what are your doctrines?’ ‘There they stand incarnate.’ ‘But what is your practice?’ ‘There stands our practice. He is our example.’ ‘What then do you believe?’ Hear the glorious answer of the Apostle Paul, ‘We preach Christ crucified.’ Our creed, our body of divinity, our whole theology is summed up in the person of Christ Jesus.

C. H. Spurgeon, “De Propaganda Fide,” in Lectures Delivered before the Young Men’s Christian Association in Exeter Hall 1858-1859, pages 159-160.

HT: The Gospel Coalition

A Balm for Every Wound

Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?

Jer. 8:22 KJV

Life takes its toil: loss of a loved one, chronic pain and sickness, broken relationships, and financial struggles. Yet during all this confusion, hurt, and disappointment, every believer has the balm of Gilead, the healer of our souls: Jesus Christ. In prayer and worship, the Holy Spirit comes and makes Christ known to us in all his grace and glory. Jesus Christ loves, heals, soothes, and renews us in the midst of the toils and struggles of this life. Jesus’ cross carries our sorrows, his resurrection lifts up out of the pit, and the Spirit’s presence takes away our loneliness.

Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose yourself in sorrow? Would you drown in your cares?

Then go plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in His immensity; and you shall come forth as from the couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the billowing of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead.

Charles Spurgeon, “The Immutability of God,” January 7, 1855, quoted in J. I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1973), 14.

Christ Saves His People

Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.

2 Tim. 2:19

Holiness of life is not an option for the believer. Belief in Christ means a changed heart that leads to a changed life. Christ must be Lord, sin must be rejected, and holiness desired and pursued. We may stumble and fall on occasion, but our heart’s desire is Christlikeness. Christ saves his people, he completely transforms us at the foot of the Cross.

Christ will be master of the heart, and sin must be mortified. If your life is unholy, your heart is unchanged; you are an unsaved person. If the Savior has not sanctified you, renewed you, given you a hatred of sin and a love of holiness, the grace which does not make a man better than others is a worthless counterfeit.

Christ saves His people, not in their sins but from them. Without holiness “no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Tim. 2:19). If not saved from sin, how can we hope to be counted among His people? Lord, save me even now from all evil, and enable me to honor my Savior.

Charles H. Spurgeon, Daily Help  [electronic ed.] (Escondito, CA: Ephesians Four Group), July 5.

Most Magnanimous of Captains

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus.

Heb. 2:9

On June 7, 1891, in heightened physical pain from his numerous illnesses, (Charles H.) Spurgeon preached what would be unknown to him, his last sermon. Spurgeon’s concluding words in the pulpit were, as always, about his Lord Jesus Christ:

He is the most magnanimous of captains. There never was his like among the choicest of princes. He is always to be found in the thickest part of the battle. When the wind blows cold he always takes the bleak side of the hill. The heaviest end of the cross lies ever on his shoulders. If he bids us carry a burden, he carries it also. If there is anything that is gracious, generous, kind, and tender, yea lavish and superabundant in love, you always find it in him.

These forty years and more have I served him, blessed be his name! and I have had nothing but love from him. I would be glad to continue yet another forty years in the same dear service here below if so it pleased him. His service is life, peace, joy. Oh, that you would enter on it at once! God help you to enlist under the banner of Jesus even this day! Amen.

HT: “The Anguish and Agonies of Charles Spurgeon”

The Gospel in Four Words

 

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Matt. 11:28 ESV

The gospel is the good news that God in Christ has come into the world and by his life, death, burial, and resurrection has conquered our greatest enemies: the world, the flesh, sin, death, and the devil. The gospel is the proclamation that our sins are forgiven and we are under condemnation no more.

This gospel calls forth a response of faith and repentance where upon we receive Christ’s righteousness and are granted right standing in the Father’s sight. Our response allows the Holy Spirit to transform our entire beings making us new creations in Christ.

The gospel is summarized by Jesus’ words, “I will give you.” “I,” salvation is found in the person, Jesus. “Will,” it is the Father’s desire to make this salvation available to anyone who comes. “Give,” the gospel is a gift, a gift of grace alone. “You,” salvation is about us and God’s love for us.

‘Come unto me,’ he says, ‘and I will give you.’ You say, ‘Lord, I cannot give you anything.’ He does not want anything. Come to Jesus, and he says, ‘I will give you.’ Not what you give to God, but what he gives to you, will be your salvation. ‘I will give you‘ — that is the gospel in four words.

Will you come and have it? It lies open before you.”

C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, 1950), I:175. Italics original.

HT: Ray Ortlund

 

Spurgeon’s Word of Knowledge

Charles H. Spurgeon

 

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance (i.e., word) of wisdom, and to another the utterance (i.e., word) of knowledge according to the same Spirit.

1 Cor. 12:7-8 ESV

A word of knowledge is insight given to a believer into another person’s past which ministers God’s present love into their current problems and struggles. A word of knowledge reveals heart-felt secrets that only our omniscient God could know for the purpose of displaying God’s care and concern for that person’s needs. “A word of knowledge is usually defined within charismatic circles as the report of a specific piece of information that a person could not possibly have known naturally” (Adrian Warnock).

There were many instances of remarkable conversions at the Music Hall; one especially was so singular that I have often related it as a proof that God sometimes guides His servants to say what they would themselves never have thought of uttering, in order that He may bless the hearer for whom the message is personally intended. While preaching in the hall, on one occasion, I deliberately pointed to a man in the midst of the crowd, and said, “There is a man sitting there, who is a shoemaker; he keeps his shop open on Sundays, it was open last Sabbath morning, he took ninepence, and there was fourpence profit out of it; his soul is sold to Satan for fourpence ! ” A city missionary, when going his rounds, met with this man, and seeing that he was reading one of my sermons, he asked the question, “Do you know Mr. Spurgeon?” “Yes,” replied the man, “I have every reason to know him, I have been to hear him; and, under his preaching, by God’s grace I have become a new creature in Christ Jesus. Shall I tell you how it happened ? I went to the Music Hall, and took my seat in the middle of the place ; Mr. Spurgeon looked at me as if he knew me, and in his sermon he pointed to me, and told the congregation that I was a shoemaker, and that I kept my shop open on Sundays ; and I did, sir. I should not have minded that; but he also said that I took ninepence the Sunday before, and that there was fourpence profit out of it. I did take ninepence that day, and fourpence was just the profit; but how he should know that, I could not tell. Then it struck me that it was God who had spoken to my soul through him, so I shut up my shop the next Sunday. At first, I was afraid to go again to hear him, lest he should tell the people more about me ; but afterwards I went, and the Lord met with me, and saved my soul.”

Spurgeon elaborates that his experience of the word of knowledge (not his term) was not uncommon in his ministry:

I could tell as many as a dozen similar cases in which I pointed at somebody in the hall without having the slightest knowledge of the person, or any idea that what I said was right, except that I believed I was moved by the Spirit to say it; and so striking has been my description, that the persons have gone away, and said to their friends, ” Come, see a man that told me all things that ever I did ; beyond a doubt, he must have been sent of God to my soul, or else he could not have described me so exactly.” And not only so, but I have known many instances in which the thoughts of men have been revealed from the pulpit. I have sometimes seen persons nudge their neighbours with their elbow, because they had got a smart hit, and they have been heard to say, when they were going out, “The preacher told us just what we said to one another when we went in at the door.”

Charles H. Spurgeon, The Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon, Vol. 2: 1854-1860 (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1899), 226-227.

 

The Simple Gospel

 

Preach Christ 

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. . . .

1 Cor. 15:3-4

The gospel is the good news that God in Christ has come into the world and by his life, death, burial, and resurrection has conquered our greatest enemies: the world, the flesh, sin, death, and the devil. The gospel is the proclamation that our sins are forgiven and we are under condemnation no more. This gospel calls forth a response of faith and repentance where upon we receive Christ’s righteousness and are granted right standing in the Father’s sight. Our response allows the Holy Spirit to transform our entire beings making us new creations in Christ.

Of all I would wish to say this is the sum; my brethren, preach Christ, always and evermore. He is the whole gospel. His person, offices, and work must be our one great, all-comprehending theme.

The world needs to be told of its Saviour, and of the way to reach him. Justification by faith should be far more than it is the daily testimony of Protestant pulpits; and if with this master-truth there should be more generally associated the other great doctrines of grace, the better for our church and our age. . .

We are not called to proclaim philosophy and metaphysics, but the simple gospel. Man’s fall, his need of a new birth, forgiveness through an atonement, and salvation as the result of faith, these are our battle-axe and weapons of war.

We have enough to do to learn and teach these great truths, and accursed be that learning which shall divert us from our mission, or that wilful ignorance which shall cripple us in its pursuit.

Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, 1875-94 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2008), 87-88, paragraphing mine.

HT: Desiring God

His Blood Is Bibline

A Life That Is Bible Saturated

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,that ethe man of God2 may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2 Tim. 3:16-17 ESV

The Bible is the Word of God by its immeasurable majesty, moral purity, essential unity, and time-tested faithfulness. The Bible is unique in its power to convince and convert our hearts, comfort and build-up our spirits, and divide and measure our motives. The Bible is encouragement in trial, insight into the tribulations of life, and guidance in the midst of confusion. The Bible is the only book whose author can personally and directly apply its truths to our daily lives. The Bible is to be believed, obeyed, trusted, digested, and honored. When we read the Bible, the Spirit leads us to repent that we may be made holy; hear God’s voice that we may be drawn nearer to Christ, renounce the world that we may be transformed into the image of Christ, revived as the people of God that we may be a light unto the world, and prepared for the Second Coming of Christ that we may be ready to see Christ face-to-face.

Oh, that you and I might get into the very heart of the Word of God, and get that Word into ourselves! As I have seen the silkworm eat into the leaf, and consume it, so ought we to do with the Word of the Lord—not crawl over its surface, but eat right into it till we have taken it into our inmost parts. It is idle merely to let the eye glance over the words, or to recollect the poetical expressions, or the historic facts; but it is blessed to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your very style is fashioned upon Scripture models, and, what is better still, your spirit is flavored with the words of the Lord.

I would quote John Bunyan as an instance of what I mean. Read anything of his, and you will see that it is almost like the reading the Bible itself. He had read it till his very soul was saturated with Scripture; and, though his writings are charmingly full of poetry, yet he cannot give us his Pilgrim’s Progress—that sweetest of all prose poems — without continually making us feel and say, “Why, this man is a living Bible!” Prick him anywhere—his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God. I commend his example to you, beloved.

”Mr. Spurgeon as a Literary Man,” in The Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon, Compiled from His Letters, Diaries, and Records by His Wife and Private Secretary, vol. 4, 1878-1892 (Curtis & Jennings, 1900), p. 268.

Preach Christ

A Loaf of Bread Without Flour 

To you is the word of this salvation sent.

Acts 13:26 KJV

I have been a Bible-believing Christian since 1976 and I have heard many, many sermons. Some of those sermons were memorable, some were challenging, some were convicting, and some were forgettable. The common denominator between the life-changing sermons and the God exalting ones were Jesus Christ. The preachers proclaimed Jesus Christ: his person, his work, his grace, his cross, and his love. A sermon without Christ is moralism: a sermon proclaiming Christ is the gospel.

The motto of all true servants of God must be, ‘We preach Christ; and Him crucified.’ A sermon without Christ in it is like a loaf of bread without any flour in it. No Christ in your sermon, sir? Then go home, and never preach again until you have something worth preaching.

Charles H. Spurgeon,“To You,” No. 2899, A Sermon Published on Thursday, September 1st, 1904, Preached at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, on Lord’s-Day Evening, July 9th, 1876.

Charles H.Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Sermons: Volume 50electronic ed. (Albany, OR : Ages Software, 1998).

HT: Mike Neglia