It is an honor to serve the Lord.
God’s Total Surrender to Us
Salvation does not mean merely deliverance from sin or the experience of personal holiness. The salvation which comes from God means being completely delivered from myself, and being placed into perfect union with Him. When I think of my salvation experience, I think of being delivered from sin and gaining personal holiness. But salvation is so much more! It means that the Spirit of God has brought me into intimate contact with the true Person of God Himself. And as I am caught up into total surrender to God, I become thrilled with something infinitely greater than myself.
To say that we are called to preach holiness or sanctification is to miss the main point. We are called to proclaim Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:2). The fact that He saves from sin and makes us holy is actually part of the effect of His wonderful and total surrender to us.
If we are truly surrendered, we will never be aware of our own efforts to remain surrendered. Our entire life will be consumed with the One to whom we surrender. Beware of talking about surrender if you know nothing about it. In fact, you will never know anything about it until you understand that John 3:16 means that God completely and absolutely gave Himself to us. In our surrender, we must give ourselves to God in the same way He gave Himself for us— totally, unconditionally, and without reservation. The consequences and circumstances resulting from our surrender will never even enter our mind, because our life will be totally consumed with Him.
The Servant of God
From: Streams in the Desert
They sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: “Great and astounding are your deeds, Lord God, the All-Powerful! Just and true are your ways, King over the nations! (Rev 15:3)
The following incident is related by Mrs. Charles Spurgeon, who was a great sufferer for more than a quarter of a century:
“At the close of a dark and gloomy day, I lay resting on my couch as the deeper night drew on; and though all was bright within my cozy room, some of the external darkness seemed to have entered into my soul and obscured its spiritual vision. Vainly I tried to see the Hand which I knew held mine, and guided my fog-enveloped feet along a steep and slippery path of suffering. In sorrow of heart I asked,
“’Why does my Lord thus deal with His child? Why does He so often send sharp and bitter pain to visit me? Why does He permit lingering weakness to hinder the sweet service I long to render to His poor servants?’
“These fretful questions were quickly answered, and through a strange language; no interpreter was needed save the conscious whisper of my heart.
“For a while silence reigned in the little room, broken only by the crackling of the oak log burning in the fireplace. Suddenly I heard a sweet, soft sound, a little, clear, musical note, like the tender trill of a robin beneath my window.
“’What can it be? surely no bird can be singing out there at this time of the year and night.’
“Again came the faint, plaintive notes, so sweet, so melodious, yet mysterious enough to provoke our wonder. My friend exclaimed,
“’It comes from the log on the fire!’ The fire was letting loose the imprisoned music from the old oak’s inmost heart!
“Perchance he had garnered up this song in the days when all was well with him, when birds twittered merrily on his branches, and the soft sunlight flecked his tender leaves with gold. But he had grown old since then, and hardened; ring after ring of knotty growth had sealed up the long-forgotten melody, until the fierce tongues of the flames came to consume his callousness, and the vehement heart of the fire wrung from him at once a song and a sacrifice. ’Ah,’ thought I, ’when the fire of affliction draws songs of praise from us, then indeed we are purified, and our God is glorified!’
“Perhaps some of us are like this old oak log, cold, hard, insensible; we should give forth no melodious sounds, were it not for the fire which kindles around us, and releases notes of trust in Him, and cheerful compliance with His will.
“’As I mused the fire burned,’ and my soul found sweet comfort in the parable so strangely set forth before me.
“Singing in the fire! Yes, God helping us, if that is the only way to get harmony out of these hard apathetic hearts, let the furnace be heated seven times hotter than before.”
Christ precious to believers
“Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.” 1 Peter 2:7
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Peter 1:18-21
This text calls to my recollection the opening of my ministry. It is about eight years since as a lad of sixteen, I stood up for the first time in my life to preach the gospel in a cottage to a handful of poor people, who had come together for worship. I felt my own inability to preach, but I ventured to take this text, “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.” I do not think I could have said anything upon any other text, but Christ was precious to my soul and I was in the flush of my youthful love, and I could not be silent when a precious Jesus was the subject. I had but just escaped from the bondage of Egypt, I had not forgotten the broken fetter; still did I recollect those flames which seemed to burn about my path, and that devouring gulf which opened its mouth as if ready to devour me. With all these things fresh in my youthful heart, I could but speak of his preciousness who had been my Saviour; and had plucked me as a brand from the burning, and set me upon a rock, and put a new song in my mouth, and established my goings. And now, at this time what shall I say? “What hath God wrought?” How hath the little one become a thousand, and the small one a great people? And what shall I say concerning this text, but that if the Lord Jesus was precious then, he is as precious now? And if I could declare then, that Jesus was the object of my soul’s desire, that for him I hoped to live, and for him I would be prepared to die, can I not say, God being my witness, that he is more precious to me this day than ever he was?
Sermon no. 242
13 March (1859)
The arrows of the Lord’s deliverance
‘Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice.’ 2 Kings 13:19
Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 9:35–10:7
Point me to a single period in the history of the church where God has worked without instrumentality, and I will tell you that I suspect whether God has worked at all if I do not see the instruments he has employed. Take the Reformation, can you think of it without thinking of God? At the same time, can you mention it without the names of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and Melanchthon? Then in the later revival in England, when our slumbering churches were suddenly started from their sleep, who did it? The Holy Spirit himself: but you cannot talk of the revival without mentioning the names of Whitefield and Wesley, for God worked by means then, and he works by means still. I need to notice a remark which was made concerning the revival in the north of Ireland, that there seemed to be no prominent instrumentality. The moment I saw that, I mistrusted it. Had it been God’s work more fully developed through instrumentality, I believe it would not have so speedily come to a close. We grant you that God can work without means, and even when he uses means he still takes the glory to himself, for it is all his own; yet it has been the rule, and will be the rule till the day of means shall come to an end; that just as God saved man by taking upon himself man’s flesh, so everywhere in the world he calls men by speaking to them through men of their own flesh and blood. God incarnates himself—in his Spirit, incarnates himself in the chosen men, especially in his church, in which he dwells as in a temple; and then through that church he is pleased to bless the world.
For meditation: We have Scriptural precedents for praying for revival (Psalm 85:6;Habakkuk 3:2); there is a danger of that becoming too vague and general—a ‘Lord, bless us’ prayer, so we have a more specific instruction from our Saviour himself—we are to pray for workers (Luke 10:2).
Sermon no. 569
13 March (Preached 22 March 1864)