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Preach the Gospel

Written by: Spurgeon, C.H.    Posted on: 04/01/2003

Category: Sermons

Source: CCN

"Preach the Gospel"  A Sermon by the REV. C.H. SPURGEON

              "For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of; for necessity is laid upon me; yea woe is               unto me, if I preach not the gospel."1 Corinthians 9:16.

          THE greatest man of Apostolic times was the apostle Paul. He was always great in everything. If you           consider him as a sinner, he was exceeding sinful; if you regard him as a persecutor, he was exceeding           mad against the Christians, and persecuted them even unto strange cities, if you take him as a convert,           his conversion was the most notable one of which we read, worked by miraculous power, and by the           direct voice of Jesus speaking from heaven"Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?"If we take him simply as a           Christian, he was an extraordinary one, loving his Master more than others, and seeking more than others to           exemplify the grace of God in his life. But if you take him as an apostle, and as a preacher of the Word, he stands           out pre-eminent as the prince of preachers, and a preacher to kingsfor he preached before Agrippa, he preached           before Nero Caesarhe stood before emperors and kings for Christ's name's sake. It was the characteristic of           Paul, that whatever he did, he did with all his heart. He was one of the men who could not allow one half of his           frame to be exercised, while the other half was indolent but, when he set to work, the whole of his           energiesevery nerve, every sinewwere strained in the work to be done, be it bad work or be it good. Paul,           therefore, could speak from experience concerning his ministry; because he was the chief of ministers. There is no           nonsense in what he speaks; it is all from the depth of his soul. And we may be sure that when he wrote this, he           wrote it with a strong unpalsied hand"Though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of, for necessity is           laid upon me, yea, woe is me if I preach not the gospel."               Now, these words of Paul, I trust, are applicable to many ministers in the present day; to all those who are           especially called, who are directed by the inward impulse of the Holy Spirit to occupy the position of gospel           ministers. In trying to consider this verse, we shall have three inquiries this morning:First, What is it to preach           the gospel? Secondly, Why is it that a minister has nothing to glorify of? And thirdly, What is that necessity and           that woe, of which it is written, "Necessity is laid upon me, yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel?"               I. The first enquiry is, WHAT IS IT TO PREACH THE GOSPEL? There are a variety of opinions           concerning this question, and possibly amongst my own audiencethough I believe we are very uniform in our           doctrinal sentimentsthere might be found two or three very ready answers to this question: What is it to preach           the gospel? I shall therefore attempt to answer it myself according to my own judgment, if God will help me; and           if it does not happen to be the correct answer, you are at liberty to supply a better to yourselves at home.               1. The first answer I shall give to the question is this: To preach the gospel is to state every doctrine           contained in God's Word, and to give every truth its proper prominence. Men may preach a part of the gospel;           they may only preach one single doctrine of it; and I would not say that a man did not preach the gospel at all if he           did but maintain the doctrine of justification by faith"By grace are ye saved through faith." I should put him           down for a gospel minister, but not for one who preached the whole gospel. No man can be said to preach the           whole gospel of God if he leaves it out, knowingly and intentionally, one single truth of the blessed God. This           remark of mine must be a very cutting one, and ought to strike into the consciences of many who make it almost a           matter of principle to keen back certain truths from the people, because they are afraid of them. In conversation, a           week or two ago, with an eminent professor, he said to me, "Sir, we know that we ought not to preach the           doctrine of election, because it is not calculated to convert sinners." "But," said I to him, "who is the men that           dares to find fault with the truth of God? You admit, with me, that it is a truth, and yet you say it must not be           preached. I dare not have said that thing. I should reckon it supreme arrogance to have ventured to say that a           doctrine ought not to be preached when the all-wise God has seen fit to reveal it. Besides, is the whole gospel           intended to convert sinners? There are some truths which God blesses to the conversion of sinners; but are there           not other portions which were intended for the comfort of the saint? and ought not these to be a subject of gospel           ministry as well as the others? And shall I look at one and disregard the other? No: if God says, 'Comfort ye,           comfort ye, my people' if election comforts God's people, then must I preach it." But I am not quite so sure, that           after all, that doctrine is not calculated to convert sinners. For the great Jonathan Edwardes tells us, that in the           greatest excitement of one of his revivals, he preached the sovereignty of God in the salvation or condemnation of           man, and showed that God was infinitely just if he sent men to hell! that he was infinitely merciful if he saved any;           and that it was all of his own free grace, and he said, "I found no doctrine caused more thought nothing entered           more deeply into the heart than the proclamation of that truth." The same might be said of other doctrines. There           are certain truths in God's word which are condemned to silence; they, forsooth, are not to be uttered, because,           according to the theories of certain persons, looking at these doctrines, they are not calculated to promote certain           ends. But is it for me to judge God's truth? Am I to put his words in the scale, and say, "This is good, and that is           evil?' Am I to take God's Bible, and sever it and say, "this is husk, and this is wheat?" Am I to cast away any one           truth, and say, "I dare not preach it?" No: God forbid. Whatsoever is written in God's Word is written for our           instruction: and the whole of it is profitable, either for reproof, or for consolation, or for edification in           righteousness. No truth of God's Word ought to be withheld, but every portion of it preached in its own proper           order.               Some men purposely confine themselves to four or five topics continually. Should you step into their chapel,           you would naturally expect to hear them preaching, either from this, "Not of the will of the flesh, but of the will of           God," or else, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father." You know that the moment you step in           you are sure to hear nothing but election and high doctrine that day. Such men err also, quite as much as others, if           they give too great prominence to one truth to the neglect of the others. Whatsoever is here to be preached, "all it           whatever name you please, write it high, write it lowthe Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, is the           standard of the true Christian. Alas! alas! many make an iron ring of their doctrines, and he who dares to step           beyond that narrow circle, is not reckoned orthodox. God bless heretics, then! God send us more of them! Many           make theology into a kind of treadwheel, consisting of five doctrines, which are everlastingly rotated; for they           never go on to anything else. There ought to be every truth preached. And if God has written in his word that "he           that believeth not is condemned already," that is as much to be preached as the truth that "there is no           condemnation to them that are in Jesus Christ." If I find it written, "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself," that           man's condemnation is his own fault, I am to preach that as well as the next clause, "In me is thy help found." We           ought, each of us who are entrusted with the ministry, to seek to preach all truth. I know it may be impossible to           tell you all of it. That high hill of truth hath mists upon its summit. No mortal eye can see its pinnacle; nor hath the           foot of man ever trodden it. But yet let us paint the mist, if we cannot paint the summit. Let us depict the difficulty           itself if we cannot unravel it. Let us not hide anything, but if the mountain of truth be cloudy at the top, let us say,           "Clouds and darkness are around him," Let us not deny it; and let us not think of cutting down the mountain to           our own standard, because we cannot see its summit or cannot reach its pinnacle. He who would preach the           gospel must preach all the gospel. He who would have it said he is a faithful minister, must not keep back any part           of revelation.               2. Again, am I asked what it is to preach the gospel? I answer to preach the gospel is to exalt Jesus Christ.           Perhaps this is the best answer that I could give. I am very sorry to see very often how little the gospel is           understood even by some of the best Christians. Some time ago there was a young woman under great distress of           soul; she came to a very pious Christian man, who said "My dear girl, you must go home and pray." Well I           thought within myself, that is not the Bible way at all. It never says, "Go home and pray." The poor girl went           home; she did pray, and she still continued in distress. Said he, "You must wait, you must read the Scriptures and           study them." That is not the Bible way; that is not exalting Christ; find a great many preachers are preaching that           kind of doctrine. They tell a poor convinced sinner, "You must go home and pray, and read the Scriptures; you           must attend the ministry;" and so on. Works, works, worksinstead of "By grace are ye saved through faith," If a           penitent should come and ask me, "What must I do to be saved?" I would say, "Christ must save youbelieve on           the name of the Lord Jesus Christ." I would neither direct to prayer, nor reading of the Scriptures nor attending           God's house; but simply direct to faith, naked faith on God's gospel. Not that I despise prayerthat must come           after faith. Not that I speak a word against the searching of the Scripturesthat is an infallible mark of God's           children. Not that I find fault with attendance on God's wordGod forbid! I love to see people there. But none of           those things are the way of salvation. It is nowhere written"He that attendeth chapel shall be saved," or, "He           that readeth the Bible shall be saved." Nor do I read"He that prayeth and is baptised shall be saved;" but, "He           that believeth,"he that has a naked faith on the "Man Christ Jesus,"on his Godhead, on his manhood, is           delivered from sin. To preach that faith alone saves, is to preach God's truth. Nor will I for one moment concede           to any man the name of a gospel minister, if he preaches anything as the plan of salvation except faith in Jesus           Christ, faith, faith, nothing but faith in his name. But we are, most of us, very much muddled in our ideas. We get           so much work stored into our brain, such an idea of merit and of doing, wrought into our hearts, that it is almost           impossible for us to preach justification by faith clearly and fully; and when we do, our people won't receive it.           We tell them, "Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." But they have a notion that           faith is something so wonderful, so mysterious, that it is quite impossible that without doing something else they           can ever get it. Now, that faith which unites to the Lamb is an instantaneous gift of God, and he who believes on           the Lord Jesus is that moment saved, without anything else whatsoever. Ah! my friends, do we not want more           exalting Christ in our preaching, and more exalting Christ in our living? Poor Mary said, "They have taken away           my Lord and I know not where they have laid him," And she might say so now-a-days if she could rise from the           grave. Oh! to have a Christ-exalting ministry! Oh! to have preaching that magnifies Christ in his person, that extols           his divinity, that loves his humanity; to have preaching that shows him as prophet, priest, and king to his people! to           have preaching whereby the spirit manifests the Son of God unto his children: to have preaching that says, "Look           unto him and be ye saved all the ends of the earth,"Calvary preaching, Calvary theology, Calvary books,           Calvary sermons! These are the things we want, and in proportion as we have Calvary exalted and Christ           magnified, the gospel is preached in our midst.               3. The third answer to the question is: to preach the gospel is to give every class of character his due. "You           are only to preach to God's dear people, if you go into that pulpit," said a deacon once to a minister. Said the           minister, "Have you marked them all on the back, that I may know them?" What is the good of this large chapel if           I am only to preach to God's dear people? They are few enough. God's dear people might be held in the vestry.           We have many more here besides God's dear people, and how am I to be sure, if I am told to preach only to           God's dear people, that somebody else wont take it to himself? At another time some one might say, "Now, be           sure you preach to sinners. If you do not preach to sinners this morning, you won't preach the gospel. We shall           only hear you once; and we shall be sure you are not right if you do not happen to preach to sinner this particular           morning, in this particular sermon." What nonsense, my friends! There are times when the children must be fed,           and there are times when the sinner must be warned. There are different times for different objects. If a man is           preaching to God's saints if it so happen that little is said to sinners, is he to be blamed for it, provided that at           another time when he is not comforting the saints, he directs his attention specially to the ungodly? I heard a good           remark from an intelligent friend of mine the other day. A person was finding fault with "Dr. Hawker's Morning           and Evening Portions" because they were not calculated to convert sinners. He said to the gentleman, "Did you           ever read; 'Grote's History of Greece?'" "Yes." Well, that is a shocking book, is it not? for it is not calculated to           convert sinners. "Yes, but," said the other, "'Grote's History of Greece' was never meant to convert sinners."           "No," said my friend, "and if you had read the preface to 'Dr. Hawker's Morning and Evening Portion,' you would           see that it was never meant to convert sinners, but to feed God's people, and if it answers its end the man has           been wise, though he has not aimed at some other end." Every class of person is to have his due. He who           preaches solely to saints at all times does not preach the gospel; he who preaches solely and only to the sinner; and           never to the saint, does not preach the whole of the gospel. We have amalgamation here. We have the saint who is           full of assurance and strong; we have the saint who is weak and low in faith; we have the young convert; we have           the man halting between two opinions; we have the moral man; we have the sinner; we have the reprobate; we           have the outcast. Let each have a word. Let each have a portion of meat in due season; not at every season, but in           due season. He who omits one class of character does not know how to preach the entire gospel. What! Am I to           be put into the pulpit and to be told that I am to confine myself to certain truths only, to comfort God's saints? I           will not have it so. God gives men hearts to love their fellow-creatures, and are they to have no development for           that heart? If I love the ungodly am I to have no means of speaking to them? May I not tell them of judgment to           come, of righteousness, and of their sin? God forbid I should so stultify my nature and so brutalize myself, as to           have a tearless eye when I consider the loss of my fellow creatures, and to stand and say "Ye are dead, I have           nothing to say to you!" and to preach in effect if not in words that most damnable heresy, that if men are to be           bayed they will be savedthat if they are not to be saved they will not be saved; that necessarily, they must sit           still and do nothing whatever; and that it matters not whether they live in sin or in righteousnesssome strong fate           has bound them down with adamantine chains; and their destiny is so certain that they may live on in sin. I believe           their destiny is certainthat as elect, they will be saved, and if not elect they are damned for ever. But I do not           believe the heresy that follows as an inference that therefore men are irresponsible and may sit still. That is a           heresy against which I have ever protested, as being a doctrine of the devil and not of God at all. We believe in           destiny; we believe in predestination; we believe in election and non-election: but, notwithstanding that, we believe           that we must preach to men, He Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and ye shall be saved," but believe not on him           and ye are damned.               4. I had thought of giving one more answer to this question, but time fails me. The answer would have been           somewhat like thisthat to preach the gospel is not to preach certain truths about the gospel, not to preach about           the people, but to preach to the people. To preach the gospel is not to talk about what the gospel is, but to preach           it into the heart, not by your own might, but by the influence of the Holy Ghostnot to stand and talk as if we           were speaking to the angel Gabriel, and telling him certain things, but to speak as man to man and pour our heart           in to our fellow's heart. This I take it, is to preach the gospel, and not to mumble some dry manuscript over on           Sunday morning or Sunday evening. To preach the gospel is not to send a curate to do your duty for you; it is not           to put on your fine gown and then stand and give out some lofty speculation. To preach the gospel is not, with the           hands of a bishop, to turn over some beautiful specimen of prayer, and then to go down again and leave it to some           humbler person to speak. Nay; to preach the gospel is to proclaim with trumpet tongue and flaming zeal the           unsearchable riches of Christ Jesus, so that men may hear, and understanding, may turn to God with full purpose           of heart. This is to preach the gospel.               II. The second question isHow IS IT THAT MINISTERS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO GLORY? "For           though I preach the gospel I have nothing to glorify it." There are some weeds that will grow anywhere; and one           of them is Pride. Pride will grow on a rock as well as in a garden. Pride will grow in the heart of a shoe-black as           well as in the heart of an alderman. Pride will grow in the heart of a servant girl and equally as well in the heart of           her mistress. And pride will grow in the pulpit. It is a weed that is dreadfully rampant. It wants cutting down every           week, or else we should stand up to our knees in it. This pulpit is a shocking bad soil for pride. It grows terribly;           and I scarcely know whether you ever find a preacher of the gospel who will not confess that he has the greatest           temptation to pride. I suppose that even those ministers of whom nothing is said, but that they are very good           people, and who have a City church, with some six people attending it, have a temptation to pride. But whether           that is so or not, I am quite sure wherever there is a large assembly, and wherever a great deal of noise and stir is           made concerning any man there is a great danger of pride. And, mark you, the more proud a man is the greater           will be his fall at last. If people will hold a minister up in their hands and do not keep hold of him, but let him go,           what a fall he will have, poor fellow, when it is all over. It has been so with many. Many men have been held up           by the arms of men, they have been held up by the arms of praise, and not of prayer; these arms have become           weak, and down they have fallen. I say there is temptation to pride in the pulpit; but there is no ground for it in the           pulpit; there is no soil for pride to grow on; but it will grow without any. "I have nothing to glorify of." But,           notwithstanding, there often comes in some reason why we should glory, not real, but apparent to our ownselves.               1. Now, how is it that a true minister feels he has "nothing to glorify of." First, because he is very conscious           of his own imperfections. I think no man will ever form a more just opinion of himself than he who is called           constantly and incessantly to preach. Some man once thought he could preach, and on being allowed to enter the           pulpit, he found his words did not come quite so freely as he expected, and in the utmost trepidation and fear, he           leaned over the front of the pulpit and said "My friends, if you would come up here, it would take the conceit out           of you all, I verily believe it would out of a great many, could they once try themselves whether they could           preach. It would take their critical conceit out of them, and make them think that after all it was not such easy           work. He who preaches best feels that he preaches worst. He who has set up some lofty model in his own mind of           what eloquence should be, and what earnest appeal ought to be, will know how much he falls below it. He, best of           all, can reprove himself when he knows his own deficiency. I do not believe when a man does a thing well, that           therefore he will glory in it. On the other hand, I think that he will be the best judge of his own imperfections, and           will see them most clearly. He knows what he ought to be: other men do not. They stare, and gaze, and think it is           wonderful, when he thinks it is wonderfully absurd and retires wondering that he has not done better. Every true           minister will feel that he is deficient. He will compare himself with such men as Whitfield, with such preachers as           those of puritanical times, and he will say, "What am I? Like a dwarf beside a giant, an ant-hill by the side of the           mountain." When he retires to rest on Sabbath-night, he will toss from side to side on his bed, because he feels           that he has missed the mark, that he has not had that earnestness, that solemnity, that death-like intenseness of           purpose which became his position. He will accuse himself of not having dwelt enough on this point, or for having           shunned the other, or not having been explicit enough on some certain subject, or expanded another too much. He           will see his own faults, for God always chastises his own children at night-time when they have done something           wrong. We need not others to reprove us; God himself takes us in hand, The most highly honored before God will           often feel himself dishonored in his own esteem.               2. Again, another means of causing us to cease from all glory is the fact that God reminds us that all our gifts           are borrowed. And strikingly have I this morning been reminded of that great truththat all our gifts are           borrowed, by reading in a newspaper to the following effect:               "Last week, the quiet neighborhood of New Town was much disturbed by an occurrence which has thrown a           gloom over the entire neighborhood. A gentleman of considerable attainment, who has won an honorable degree at           the university has for some months been deranged. He had kept an academy for young gentlemen, but his insanity           had obliged him to desist from his occupation, and he has for some time lived alone in a house in the           neighborhood. The landlord obtained a warrant of ejectment; and it being found necessary to handcuff him, he           was, by sad mismanagement, compelled to remain on the steps, exposed to the gaze of a great crowd, until at last           a vehicle arrived, which conveyed him to the asylum. One of his pupils (says the paper) is Mr. Spurgeon."               The man from whom I learned whatever of human learning I have, has now become a raving lunatic in the           Asylum! When I saw that, I felt I could bend my knee with humble gratitude and thank my God that not yet had           my reason reeled, not yet had those powers departed. Oh! how thankful we ought to be that our talents are           preserved to us, and that our mind is not gone! Nothing came nearer and closer to me than that. There was one           who had taken all pains with mea man of genius and of ability; and yet there he is! ho

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