“Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.” – Hosea 6:1-2
“If man had never sinned, what delightful [relationship] there would have been between him and God!”
For Charles Haddon Spurgeon, to imagine a world free from the stain of sin was akin to a “fairy vision.” A world free from sin and full of “loving obedience and condescending fellowship,” “holy delight and boundless favour,” and lowly adoration and fatherly smile” was too wonderful to imagine. Indeed, Spurgeon cried “Alas! alas! it is no more than a vision!”
Spurgeon knew that “because of the fall, and man’s depravity, justice now comes in with its rod and sword and changes the complexion of our life.” While Spurgeon knew that God was the “loving God,” God was nonetheless “compelled by love itself” to “frown at sin.” His “justice and holiness,” while never separate from his love, “lead him to use rough words towards his erring creatures.” Truly, “in infinite love he chastens as well as rebukes.”
As Spurgeon surveyed his culture, he saw that fallen humanity had no love for such a just and holy God. He lamented, “the wise men of modern thought have made a new God of late – one…our fathers knew not.” If you were to affirm that “God is angry with the wicked” the “modern” thinkers would reply that “God is too loving for that.” Spurgeon hit the nail on the head when he remarked that “they adore a god made of putty or of wax, - plastic, effeminate, molluscous.” The “modern” thinkers had exchanged the Holy One of Israel for a “modern saccharine idol,” all sweet and no salt.
In the first section of his sermon, Spurgeon addressed the “smiting God” in his text Here he noted that the author of the text, Hosea, was “convinced that his trials come from God.” Whereas the ungodly “set down their troubles to chance,” or “their fellow men,” Spurgeon believed it was a “happy day for a man when he knows in whose hand is the rod.” After all, “affliction springeth not out of the ground, neither do distresses come by chance.” Rather, “the hand of the Lord is in all these things.” Again, Spurgeon emphasized that “whichever way the trial came, it came from [the Lord].”
But God’s use trials was not malicious or capricious, rather it was part of his “great design of love to your soul.” Remembering the example of the prodigal son, Spurgeon declared that “in this deep distress there was mercy and hope.” For the prodigal, “his way home was round by the swine trough.” Indeed, “he might never have come to his father if he had not first come to those pigs and husks.” Turning to speak to the tried sinner, Spurgeon counselled “perhaps…the way to God for you is through your troubles.”
In the second section of his sermon, Spurgeon focused on the “believing heart” in his text. Here he noted a “remarkably believing heart,” because “the man believes in the goodness of God even when he is smarting and suffering.”
Spurgeon warned his congregation that “it is wonderfully easy to believe in God when you have all you want and are free from trial, but such fair-weather faith as that is very often a mere sham.” To that point he declared that “true faith believes in God when he is angry, and trusts him when the rod is in his hand.”
As one who suffered himself Spurgeon knew that such exhortations were difficult to hear. The text was “Come, and let us return to the Lord.” But Spurgeon knew the question in his hearer’s hearts. “What, to the God who has torn us?” Spurgeon’s reply was an emphatic “yes, yes” for he knew that God “will not cast us away,” but rather “will heal the wounds he made.” Indeed, he proclaimed “you cannot think too well of God, nor expect too much mercy from him.”
In the third, and final, section of his sermon, Spurgeon gave expression to the “persuasive voice” in his text. “Come! Come! Come, let us return unto the Lord” cried the hoarse preacher. He pleaded with the prodigals in the room, asking, “if we have wandered away from God…what ought to be our first step?” The reply was simple, “Why, to go back to God.”
Recounting the story of his own conversion, Spurgeon declared “I went with trembling to my God and pleaded the precious blood of Jesus, and he healed me, he bound me up, and he gave me to live in his sight.” Thinking of his many own afflictions or sins, Spurgeon declared “I bear witness that I never went to my Lord in vain.” What ever the burden, be it affliction or sin, Spurgeon knew that he could find rest and relief in the arms of Jesus. And so, he pleaded “Come, give me your hand…and let us return unto the Lord.”
Why you should take up and read:
For Charles Haddon Spurgeon it was impossible to “think too well of God” or to “expect too much mercy from him.” Spurgeon modeled and declared a faith that “believes in the goodness of God” even when “smarting and suffering.” Indeed, he bore witness himself that “I never went to my Lord in vain.” In this sermon, Spurgeon offered wise counsel for those burdened by affliction or sin. For those wanting to “return unto the Lord” in their distress please take up and read.
Here is the link to the Sermon of the Week:https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/reasons-for-turning-to-the-lord#flipbook/
Phillip Ort serves as the Director of The Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City while studying in The Residency Ph.D. program.