A Pressed Man Yielding to Christ
Intended for Reading on Lord's-Day, March 25th, 1900,
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington,
On Thursday Evening, October 12th, 1882.
"Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on he Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him."John 9:35-38.
LAST Sabbath morning,* I spoke to you concerning one who was impressed into the King's service. That was Simon, the Cyrenian, who was compelled to bear Christ's cross. He was not a volunteer, but; a pressed man; yet, I think that, after he had been forced to bear the cross, he willingly carried it, and I hope that he afterwards became a faithful follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thou Lamb of Calvary,
It is a very vital point about true faith that it thus recognizes its obligation to speak to him, and to avow itself to him. How sweetly doth faith, sometimes, come up from the wilderness, leaning upon her Beloved, and owning to him that she is his, and he is hers! She cannot help making this confession; she would be untrue to herself and to her Lord if She did not do so.
In one respect, We are better off than this man was, for we have many divine promises to help us to believe in Christ. Have you ever noticed, dear friends, how much we live upon the promises of our fellow-men? In buying a small article at a shop, you pay your twopence far it across the counter; but, the larger the business transaction gets to be, the less there is of metallic currency in connection with it, and then you often pay each other in promises. The commonest form of a promise is a bank note; and it is worth while to observe how much a bank note is made after the model of God's promises. How does the wording of this bank note run it is headed, "Bank of England;" and it begins, "I promise." You take this note readily enough instead of five golden sovereigns, because you read on it, "I promise to pay the bearer;" and God's promise is payable to "the bearer." Whoever has the promise in his possession, whoever has faith enough to lay hold of God's promise, may read it in this way: "I promise to pay the bearer." I remember when I first snatched at one of God's precious promises; I could hardly hope that I had any right to it, for I felt myself so utterly unworthy, but I snatched it up, and ran with it to the Bank of Faith, and as soon as I presented it, received its full value. God always honours his own promises; here is one: "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." Go to him with that gracious message, and it shall be fulfilled to you whoever you are. The note says, "I promise to pay the bearer." If a sweep takes that note to the Bank of England, he will get the money for it;I mean a sweep in character as well as by trade, for the declaration on it is, "I promise to pay the bearer."
What does it new say on the bank note "I promise to pay the bearer on demand." That is how all God's promises run: "on demand." It is worthy of note that, in the olden time, when the Lord had made many promises to his people, he added, "I will yet for this be enquired of by thee house of Israel, to do it for them; "as though the fulfillment of the promise was delayed until it was asked for. No doubt many of God's great and precious promises are not realized by you and me because they are not presented to the Lord as we should take a note to the bank to get it cashed. We do not enquire of God as much as we ought. You hear of enquirers going to see the minister; that may be a good thing, but the best sort of enquirers are those I heard before I came up here to preach to-night, when some good earnest, souls met downs in the lecture-hall to enquire of God for a blessing, and to ask him to help his servant to speak the Word with power.
Now, coming back to this bank note, I daresay you would not mind having a pile of paper, of this kind, reaching from the floor to the ceiling, and then you would say to yourself, "Now I am a rich man." But you have not a single farthing there, you have only a promise "to pay the bearer on demand the sum of five pounds." "Ah!" you say, "but that promise is good all the world over." Whose promise is it? Well, it is signed by the chief cashier, but he only signs it "for the Governor and Company of the Bank of England." That is where the value of the promise lies; and it is our comfort, to know that we have a noble name written below all God's promises, for the Lord Jesus Christ has signed them all in God's behalf, for the great Governor of heaven and earth, who has no need of any "company" to be joined with him, for his sole resources are fully equal to the fulfillment of every promise that he has ever issued. Now, if we treat men's promises with respect, and pass them from hand to hand as if they were genuine gold, and we constantly do so; shall we not treat God's promises with something more than respect, and trust them with implicit confidence. Will any man have the impudence to say, "I have faith in a note signed by the chief cashier of the Bank of England, but cannot trust a promise that is certified by the Lord Jesus Christ himself?" Shall I consider that bank note to be as good as the money it represents, and yet, when I hold in my hand God's Word, signed, and sealed, and ratified by the sprinkling of the very blood of his dear Son, shall I dare to say, "I find it hard to believe in that word"? If I talk so, I shall grieve the people of God, and what is far worse, shall grieve the Lord himself.
II. Now I turn to the second part of our subject, which is, TRUE FAITH, HOW IT PROGRESSES.
Very often it has a very small beginning. Saving faith does not always come on a sudden. Some men are saved, as Saul of Tarsus was; they are struck down in the midst of their sins, and converted ill remarkable and unusual manner; but with many others there is, first, a faint twilight; then, by-and-by, a little more; and, at last, the sun has fully risen upon them. Perhaps you cannot tell when it did actually rise; but you know that it has risen, for there is the light and the brightness of its shining.
In the case of the man of whom I am speaking, faith began with a preparedness to believe. His eyes had been opened, and he was thereby made ready to believe anything that Jesus might tell him. And there is many a man who, looking back upon God's goodness to himself, and God's goodness to his father and mother, and God's goodness to gracious people in general, and thinking of the holy and lovely character of Christ, has in that way been prepared to believe when the truth was clearly set before him.
This man went a step further on the right road, for he desired to believe. He said, "Who is he, Lord," not, "that I might know about him, and talk about him"but, "that I might believe on him?" He lad a desire to possess true faith; and there are many like him, who desire to believe, but who have not exercised faith in Christ. This is very wonderful, but it is true. Of all things in the world, to believe in Christ is one of the most simple, yet that is the reason why many find it so difficult. If it were difficult, it would seem easy to them; but, being easy, it appears difficult. Some of you, dear friends, when I try to describe how we come to trust in Christ, will twist and turn what I say, even if I make it "as plain as a pikestaff." You think, "Oh, he must mean something very different from what he says!" You really cannot get this idea into your heads,that you have just to depend upon Christ, to trust him, and then you are saved, for "he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life." Whenever we use a metaphor, or figure, or illustration to try to explain the simplicity of faith, straightway somebody finds a difficulty even in that. When I have been trying to catch a sinner, I find that he has as many hiding-places as there are days in the year. I have stopped up one after another, and I have said to him, "No, salvation only comes through believing." "Yes, sir, I know, but" and down he runs into another hole. When I have dug him out of that, and fancied I should surely catch him, he says, "Oh, yes! we are to trust the Savior, but" and again he is off. Somehow, men seem very ingenious in trying to find out reasons why they should not be saved, and all their foolish ingenuity seems to be employed in attempting to escape from this blessed divine simplicity, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." May God the Holy Spirit lead them to believe in him! He must lead them, for no man can see Christ until his eyes are divinely opened. We may put the truth as plainly as ever we can, and preach it so that we think we cannot be misunderstood; but men will misunderstand us still, even those who desire to believe in Christ, until the Holy Spirit shall work effectually in them.
This man went still further on the right road; for he not only desired to believe, but he made enquiry in order that he might believe. I put it to you very simply, just now, with regard to making enquiries concerning a certain piece of news. Well, this man did the same. He said to the Master, "Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him." If sinners would only make enquiries about the Savior, they would soon trust in him. You will find, as a rule, that the people who rail at the New Testament, have never read it. If they would but read it, their cavils might soon come to an end, and be followed by a blessed faith in Christ; but, instead of doing so, they read what some objection-manufacturer has said about the Bible, instead of going to the Book itself, and seeing what it really teaches, if I were very thirsty, I do not think that I should abstain from going to a well because somebody told me that it contained bad water; but I should go, and see, and taste for myself; and when a soul gets very thirsty, if it is wise, it goes to the Word for itself. I advise you to do that, dear friends. "O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him."
When this man had made his enquiry, and received Christ's answer, he soon became decided. He said, "Lord, I believe." I like that simple, clear avowal of faith. So often, when we are conversing with an enquirer, he says, "Yes, sir; I hope I believe." Oh, dear! is that al you can say? "Well, I trust! believe;" and so faith is surrounded by fog."I hope I believe; I trust I believe." Man, don't you know whether you believe or not? You may know it; one thing I know, you have no business to go to sleep till you do know this once for all; for, if you are not a believer, you are an unbeliever. There is no middle state between the two; and if you are an unbeliever, you are "condemned already," because you have not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. This matter of believing ought never to be left in doubt at all, but it should be definitely settled, so that you can say, with this man, "Lord, I believe."
Then, further, he acted as a believer: for "he worshipped him." This proves how his faith had grown. I should like to ask you who are the people of God when you are happiest. I think you will agree with what I am going to say; and if you do not, it will still he just as true to me. My happiest moments are when I am worshipping God, really adoring the Lord Jesus Christ, and having fellowship with the ever-blessed Spirit. In that worship, I forget the cares of the church, and everything else; and, to me, it is the nearest approach to what it will be in heaven, where, day without night, they offer perpetual adoration unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. Hence, what a memorable moment it was for this man when he worshipped Christ! Now, if Christ was not God, that man was all idolater, a man-worshipper; and you and instead of being regarded as very excellent people, by those who call themselves "Unitarian Brethren," should be condemned as idolaters. If Christ was not God, we are not Christians; we are deceived dupes, we are idolaters, as bad as the heathen whom we now pity. It is making a man into a God if Christ be not God. But, blessed be his holy name, he is God; and we feel that it is the supreme delight of our being to worship him. We cannot veil our face with our wings, for we have none; but we do veil them with his own robe of righteousness whenever we approach him. We cannot cover our feet with our wings, as the angels do; but we do take his blood and his righteousness both as a covering for our feet, and as wings with which we fly up to him; and though as yet we have no crowns to cast at his dear feet, yet, if we have any honor, any good repute, any grace, anything that is comely, anything that is honest, we lay it all at his feet, and cry, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake."
III. Now I come to the third point, which is this, TRUE FAITH,HOW TO PROMOTE IT.
Brothers and sisters beloved, there are many of you who are constantly looking out for souls, and trying to bring them to Christ; you have here an example of what you may do in endeavoring to lead them to exercise faith in Jesus.
First, if you have any choice as to those to whom you go, seek out the oppressed. You are to go, so far as you can, "into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature;" but if you may specially look for some more than others, seek out the sick, the sad, the weary, the poor, the broken-down ones, and especially such as have been put out of the synagogue. When our missionaries have gone among the Brahmins in India, they have had a few converts; but the most blessing has been given among the poor people who have no high caste of which they are proud. When the gospel was taken to them, they gladly received it. The gospel worker will be wise if, instead of shunning those whom even nominally religious people put away, he looks after them first. They are likely soil for the good seed of the kingdom to grow in, and bring forth fruit. Our Lord Jesus Christ, at Sychar, did not go to some goodly matron, who was an ornament to her sex; but you know where he found the woman who became his disciple and missionary, and you know what kind of woman she was; and, to this day, he delights to go about, as Whitefield used to say, "sweeping up the devil's castaways." Those whom nobody else wants, and nobody else will have, our blessed Lord and Master delights to receive. Do you, therefore, look after those out-of-the-way sinners. I like that expression, those out-of-the-way Sinners; because our Lord Jesus Christ is the High Priest "who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way." Out-of-the-way sinners are the sort he came to save; therefore, look out for them, you who would follow the example of the great Soul-Winner.
Then, next, when you come to close quarters with them, ask them questions, as Christ did. He said to this man, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God:" Put the enquiry pointedly and personally. Here am I, up in the pulpit, firing the gospel gun, and the shot flies where God directs it; but you, downstairs, who love the Lord, can, as it were, hold a pistol close to the sinner's head. Take them separately, one by one; and make them "stand and deliver." Put the question as our Lord did, "Dost thou believe?" See, friend," you can say, "the minister has been preaching about faith. 'Dost thou believe?'" This is what nine people out of ten want, somebody to come and make a personal application of the truth to them. They are like soldiers out upon the battlefield; they lie there, wounded, bleeding, dying. Close by, there is all that is needed to bind up their wounds, and plenty of it; then, why do they lie there in agony? They need personal attention, and it is your business, as an army surgeon, to go and put on the lint, and bind up the wounds. Oh, that we had multitudes who would do this, and that all God's people were constantly looking out for opportunities of making a personal application of the truth to those who hear it! "Dost thou believe?" said the Lord Jesus to this man, and by that question he held him fast. That is the way to win souls, begin with a personal question.
Then, be ready to answer enquiries. This is what our Lord himself did when he revealed himself to this man. Tell them all you know; and if you cannot tell them all they want to know, try to bring them to somebody more advanced in spiritual things than you yourself are, so that, with prayer, and patience, and wise instruction, he may lead them to Christ.
Next, pray to the Lord Jesus Christ to reveal himself to them, for that is the way faith comes. We cannot speak of Christ as he should be spoken of; but, when he reveals himself, then the sinners see him. All the portraits of a beauty never touch the heart like one glance from her eyes; and all the portraits of Christ, that ever were painted by his most admiring disciples, never make such an impression on the heart of man as when once he says, as he said to this man, "Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee." None but Christ himself can preach Christ to the full. He must reveal himself, or the Spirit must reveal him, or else men do not see him.
Finally, glorify Christ by you're your personal testimony. Recollect that wondrous intercessory prayer of our Lord, in which he said, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." It was so kind, yet just like him, not to say, "through my word," though it is his word that we are to proclaim; but we get it into our hearts, and so appropriate it that, when we utter it, we speak out of our own heart, and soul, and then it becomes our word, too, and so sinners believe on Christ through our word. Go on speaking your word, that is, Christ's word spoken by you, for this is how to win souls for him.
Now, in closing, I want to begin again, and give you another little sermon altogether, only I shall not be able to preach it to you, but just to give you the heads of it, and leave it with you.
The first head is, when you are believing, mind that you believe in Jesus himself. "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" or is it somebody else in whom you are believing? Is it merely what others say about Christ that you believe? Is it your own opinion of Christ? Or is it really the Son of God upon whom you are believing when you are believing, believe in Jesus himself.
Next, when you are enquiring, enquire of Jesus himself. This is a beautiful thing, to my mind. Here is a man asking Christ about Christ,asking Jesus, "Who is he?" and, all the while, speaking to the very person about whom he was enquiring. He did not know it was Jesus, yet he had gone to the very fountain-head. Now, perhaps some of you have made enquiries of Christian people, and you have read the Bible, and prayed, and yet you cannot find Jesus; then go direct to him, by faith, and say, "Lord, show me thyself." That is the way to learn of him. Have I a book of which I cannot make heads or tail as I read it? If I knew where the author lived, I would call on him, and say, "Dear sir, will you kindly tell me what you mean by this expression? I cannot understand it." That is the way to find anything out; go to the fountain-head. So, go you to Christ always; and, when you are enquiring, enquire of Christ himself.
Next, when you are seeking Christ, ask Christ to reveal himself to you, for there is nobody who can reveal Christ as Christ can reveal himself by is blessed Spirit.
And, next, when you are confessing your faith, confess it to Christ himself. Say, as this man did, "Lord, I believe." Say to your minister, or to your mother, or to your friends, "I believe;" but take, care, above all the rest, that you say, "Lord, I believe."
And, lastly, when you are worshipping, worship Christ himself: "He worshipped HIM," and no one else. Take care that your reverence and adoration are not given, in any degree, to the church, or to any person in it, or to any priest, or minister, or anything created or made; but worship God, and God in Christ Jesus; and the Lord bless you, beloved, for his name's sake! Amen.
*See Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, No. 1,683, "The Great Cross-Bearer, and his Followers."