Saturday, June 23, 2012

Excuses Fall Short

What follows is from a book I'm currently reading by Charles Spurgeon.

I hear some of you say, "Well, sir, I know nothing of this work of God the Holy Spirit in my heart. I am just as good as other people. I never make a profession of religion; it is very rarely that I go into a place of worship at all, but I am as good as the saints, any of them. Look at some of them - very fine fellows certainly." 
Stop, now. Religion is a thing between you and your Maker, and you have nothing to do with those very fine fellows you have spoken of. Suppose I make a confession that a large number of those who are called saints deserve a great deal more to be called sinners double-dyed, and then whitewashed. Suppose I make a confession of that. What has that to do with you?  Your religion must be for yourself, and it must be between you and your God. If all the world were hypocrites, that would not exonerate you before your God. When you came before the Master, if you were still at enmity with Him, could you venture to plead such an excuse as this:  "All the world was full of hypocrites?"  "Well," He would say, "what did that have to do with you?  So much the more why you should have been an honest man.  If you say the church was drifting away into quicksand, through the evil conduct and folly of the members thereof, so much the more why you should have helped to make it sound, if you thought you could have done so."
Another cries, "Well, I do not see that I need it. I am as moral a man as I can be.  I never break the Sabbath. I am one of the most conscientious of Christians.  I always go to church twice on Sunday.  I listen to a thoroughly evangelical minister, and you would not find fault with him."  Perhaps another says, "I go to a Baptist chapel.  I am always found there, and I am scrupulously correct in my conduct.  I am a good father, a good husband.  I do not know that any man can find fault with me in business."  Well, certainly, that is very good, and if you will be so good tomorrow morning as to go into Saint Paul's and wash one of those statues until you make it alive, then you will be saved by your morality; but since you, even you, are "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1) without the Spirit you may wash yourself ever so clean, but you cannot wash life into you any more than those statues, by all your washing, could be made to walk or think or breathe.  You must be quickened by the Holy Spirit, for you are dead in trespasses and sins.  Yes, my lovely maiden, you who are everything excellent; you who are not to be blamed in anything; you who are affectionate, tender, kind, and dutiful.  Your very life seems to be so pure that all who see you think that you are an angel.  Even you, unless you are born again, cannot see the kingdom of God.  The golden gate of heaven must grind upon its hinges with a doleful sound and shut you out forever, unless you are the subject of a divine change, for this requirement permits no exception.
And, you, vilest of the vile, you who have wandered farthest from the paths of righteousness, "ye must be born again" (John 3:7). You must be quickened by a divine life, and it is comforting for you to remember that the very same power that can awaken the moral man, that can save the righteous and honest man, is able to work in you, is able to change you!  This power can turn the lion into a lamb, and the raven into a dove. 
Oh, my readers, ask yourselves, are you the subjects of this change?  And if you are, rejoice with joy unspeakable, for happy is that mother's child, and full of glory, who can say, "I am born of God."  Blessed is that man.  God and the holy angels call him blessed who has received the quickening of the Spirit and is born of God.  For him there may be many troubles, but there is "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor 4:17) to counterbalance all his woe; for him there may be wars and fightings, but let him tarry.  There are trumpets of victory, there are better wreaths than the laurels of conquerors, there is a crown of immortal glory, there is bliss unfading, there is acceptance in the breast of God, and perpetual fellowship with Jehovah.  But, oh, if you are not born again, I can but tremble for you and lift my heart in prayer to God, and pray for you, that He may now by His divine Spirit make you alive, show you your need of Him, adn then direct you to the cross of Jesus. 
But if you know your need of a Savior, if you are conscious of your death in sin, listen to the Gospel.  The Lord Jesus Christ died for you.  Do you know yourself to be guilty, not as the hypocrite pretends to know it, but do you know it consciously, sensitively?  Do you weep over it?  Do you lament it?  Do you feel that you cannot save yourself?  Are you sick of all fleshly ways of saving?  Can you say right now, "Unless God reaches out His hand of mercy, I know I deserve to be lost forever, and I am"?  Then, as the Lord my God lives, before whom I stand, my Master bought you with His blood, and those whom He bought with His blood, He will have; from the fangs of the lion and the jaws of the bear will He pluck them.  He will save you, for you are a part of His bloody purchase; He has taken your sins upon His head; He suffered in your place.  He has been punished for you; you will not die; "your sins, which are many, are all forgiven." (See Luke 7:47.)  I am the Master's glad herald to tell you what His Word tells you also, that you may rejoice in the fullness of faith, for "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15), and "this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation" (v. 15).  May the Lord now be pleased to add His blessing for Jesus' sake. 

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