“Let not your hearts be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” – John 14:1
For Charles Haddon Spurgeon, these words of the Lord Jesus Christ were especially sweet. When Jesus first spoke these words “The disciples had been like lambs, carried in the warm bosom of a loving Shepherd.” In the past Jesus had always been present with them physically, but once he departed they would hear “the howlings of the wolves.”
Jesus’ words, both now and then, were intended to gird and strengthen the faith of his disciples. Accordingly, Spurgeon warned his congregation that “for all of us there will come a time of trouble similar to that sorrowful occasion which led the Saviour to utter these memorable heart-cheering words.”
Spurgeon knew that life, especially the Christian life, would be marked by its own crosses and cares. As the book of Job says, “man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.” Suffering, distress, difficulty, and hardship come to all and “We must not expect that we shall be exceptions to the general lot of our race.” Indeed, the Christian must still “do battle with strong temptations and feel the wounds of adversity.” And in the midst of such trouble, these words of Christ were extremely precious.
In the first section of his sermon, Spurgeon asserted that “The advice is very timely.” Here he noted that “It is the easiest thing in the world in times of difficulty to let the heart be troubled.” He also warned that “it is very natural to us to give up and drift with the stream.” Indeed, Spurgeon was especially concerned that his congregation not give in to “Despairing idleness” or “rebellious spirits” which magnify “mischief.” Rather, God “bids us pluck up heart and be of good courage in the worst possible condition” by trusting him.”
Here Spurgeon also offered four cautions about the danger of a troubled heart. First, he said that “a troubled heart will not help us in our difficulties or out of them.” He noted that “It has never been perceived in time of drought that lamentations have brought showers of rain.” In short, he warned that “No good comes out of fretful, petulant, unbelieving heart-trouble.”
Second, he warned that “A doubting, fretful spirit takes from us the joys we have.” While Spurgeon acknowledged “You have not all you could wish” he declared that “you have still more than you deserve.” Indeed, unbelief had the ability to “[make] you forget that still health remains to you if poverty oppresses you; or that if both health and abundance have departed, you are a child of God.”
Third, he cautioned that “A troubled heart makes that which is bad worse.” Indeed, such a heart “magnifies, aggravates, caricatures, and misrepresents.” Even when faced with an “ordinary foe” a troubled heart “makes him swell into a giant.” Since “unbelief makes out our difficulties to be most gigantic” it is all the more necessary to trust and believe God.
Fourth, he declared that “a troubled heart is most dishonourable to God.” Spurgeon noted that a “troubled heart” “makes the Christian think very hardly of his tender heavenly Friend.” Furthermore, such unbelief “leads him to suspect eternal faithfulness, and to doubt unchangeable love” and produces a “proud rebellious spirit.” Indeed, Spurgeon exhorted his congregation to have a “holy confidence in God” and not to give way to a “proud rebellious spirit.”
In the second section of his sermon, Spurgeon noted that “The advice that is given is practicable: it can be carried out.” Even though some would object, saying, “that’s very easy to say, but very hard to do,” Spurgeon was convinced that “There is a way of keeping the heart out of trouble, and the savior prescribes the method.”
First, Spurgeon said, “he indicates that our resort must be faith.” Indeed, “If in thy worst times thou wouldst keep thy head above water, the swimming belt must be faith.” It was faith which first brought comfort to the believer in salvation, and it would be faith which would uphold the Christian in the midst of difficulty.
Second, Spurgeon offered three reasons for faith in the midst of difficulty. He argued that each believer had “experience” of deliverance from past trouble which provided assurance of God’s faithfulness. Second, he reminded his congregation that they had “the Holy Spirit” who was “the Comforter, to abide with you for ever.” Third, he declared “you have the whole of Scripture.” And so, whenever they needed fresh assurance they could turn to the Scriptures for strength.
In the third, and final, section of his sermon, Spurgeon argued that “The exhortation of the text ought to be very precious to all of us this morning.” Here he encouraged his congregation to “Remember that the loving advice came from him.” Indeed, it was the Lord Jesus, the Man of Sorrows himself, who offered these consoling words. In the meantime, Spurgeon declared “Be of good cheer, soldier, the battle must soon end,” and so “let not your hearts be troubled.”
Why you should take up and read:
For Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Jesus’ words “Let not your hearts be troubled” were especially sweet. Spurgeon knew that life, especially the Christian life, would be marked by its own crosses and cares. In this sermon, Spurgeon sought to remind his hearers of Christ’s precious words. For those seeking strength in the time of need please take up and read.
Here is a link to the Sermon of the Week:https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/let-not-your-hearts-be-troubled#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.