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Fields white for harvest

 

‘Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.’ John 4:35

Suggested Further Reading: 3 John 5–12

Grind your sickles; you must go to work with such cutting truths as justification by faith, as the total ruin of mankind, as the hope that is laid up in the cross, as the energy of the Holy Spirit; and when you know these truths, and know how to use them, you shall then be made great reapers in the Master’s harvest. It is idle to say, ‘I will go,’ and then go with no tool in your hand. Get the truth; get a hold of it well, get it sharp and in good order, and who knows, under the blessing of God the Holy Spirit, what you may do! The next want of harvest is some close binders. When the wheat is cut down you must tie it up with sheaves. We want some of you who cannot preach, who cannot use the sickle, to go and gather up the wheat which falls under the sickle when it is used by others.

Invite them to come into church fellowship; talk to them, get them into union with the people of God. And if you happen to be in the church yourselves, try to keep the church knit together in love. Bind the sheaves together. We cannot have good harvest work without loving hands to bind the people of God in one. Then we want beside these some to take the sheaves home. The church of God is the barn; it is the Master’s garner here; he has another garner yonder on the hill-top in heaven, but here we want you to assist in bringing them into the church of Christ. When God has saved them, try if you can get them to practise the ordinances of God, and to be joined with his people. And we want some of you, if you cannot do anything yourselves either in reaping, or binding, or bringing the sheaves home, at least by kind words and loving speeches to bring refreshments to the reapers.

For meditation: There is a great mission-field to be harvested. What part do you play?—praying, labouring (Luke 10:2); sowing, reaping (John 4:36–38) or just sleeping (Proverbs 10:5)?

Sermon no. 706
29 July (1866)

 

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The joint heirs and their divine portion

 

‘Joint heirs with Christ.’ Romans 8:17

Suggested Further Reading: Galatians 3:23–4:7

The apostle has proceeded through a simple but exceedingly forcible train of reasoning till he gains this glorious point—‘Joint heirs with Christ.’ He begins thus—‘Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.’ This is a fact which he takes for granted because he has perceived it in the hearts of believers. We do cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ From this he infers that if God has given us the Spirit whereby we call him ‘Father,’ then we are his children, which is plain, fair, and clear reasoning. Then he adds—‘If children, then heirs’—though this does not hold true in all families, because all children are not heirs; frequently the first-born may take all the estate; but with God so long as they are children they have equal rights—‘If children then heirs.’

He goes on to say, ‘Heirs of God;’ for if they are heirs they inherit their Father’s property. God is their Father; they are therefore God’s heirs! Well, but God has another Son, one who is the first-born of every creature. Exactly so, therefore if we be heirs, as Christ Jesus is the heir of all things, we are ‘joint heirs with Christ.’ I think you will see that, like links in a chain, these different truths draw each other on—the spirit of adoption proves the fact of adoption; by the act of adoption we are children; if children then heirs; if heirs, heirs of God; but since there is another heir, we must therefore be joint heirs with Christ Jesus. Blessed is the man to whom this reasoning is not abstract, but experimental. Happy is he who can follow the apostle step by step.

For meditation: Christ has been appointed ‘heir of all things’ (Hebrews 1:2). His joint-heirs inherit, among other things, the earth (Matthew 5:5), everlasting life (Matthew 19:29), the kingdom (Matthew 25:34; James 2:5), salvation (Hebrews 1:14), the promises (Hebrews 6:12), righteousness by faith (Hebrews 11:7), and the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7). Are all things yours in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:21–23)?

Sermon no. 402
28 July (1861)

 

Creation—an argument for faith

 

‘Ah Lord God, behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee.’ Jeremiah 32:17

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 107:23–32

My brother in Christ, you are greatly troubled are you? It is a common lot with us all. And so, you have nothing on earth to trust to now, and are going to be cast on your God alone? Your vessel is on her beam-ends, and now there is nothing for you but just to be rolled on the providence and care of God. What a blessed place to be rolled on! Happy storm that wrecks a man on such a rock as this! O blessed hurricane that drives the soul to God and God alone! On some few occasions I have had troubles which I could not tell to any but my God, and I thank God that I have, for I learned more of my Lord then than at any other time.

There is no getting at our God sometimes because of the multitude of our friends. But when a man is so poor, so friendless, so helpless that he has nothing, he flies into his Father’s arms, and how blessedly he is clasped there! So that, I say again, happy trouble that drives you to your Father! Blessed storm that wrecks you on the rock of ages! Glorious billow that washes you upon this heavenly shore! And now you have nothing but your God to trust to, what are you going to do? To fret? To whine? O, I pray you, do not thus dishonour your Lord and Master! Now, play the man, play the man of God. Show the world that your God is worth ten thousand worlds to you. Show rich men how rich you are in your poverty when the Lord God is your helper. Show the strong man how strong you are in your weakness when underneath you are the everlasting arms. Now man, now is your time to glorify God.

For meditation: Do you take refuge in the Lord (Psalm 73:25–26; Proverbs 18:10)? When God gets his hands upon them, even bad experiences eventually turn out for the believer’s good (Psalm 119:71; Lamentations 3:27; Romans 8:28) and the blessing overflows to others (Genesis 50:20). That is the story of Good Friday (Isaiah 53:10–11; 1 Peter 2:23–24).

Sermon no. 462
27 July (1862)

 

From death to life

 

‘The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.’ 1 Samuel 2:6

Suggested Further Reading: John 14:4–11

I heard the other day a trembling woman—I hope she will yet be rejoicing in the Lord—I heard her saying she was afraid she never should be saved, and I told her I was afraid so too, for she would not believe in Christ, but was always raising questions, and doubts, and peradventures. Well, she said, she did not know whether the Lord had begun a good work in her. I told her I did not know that either, and that I did not enquire about it; I knew what the gospel said, and that was, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.’ But she said, perhaps it was not God’s time.

I said, ‘Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.’ Ah! she said, but she could not believe. I asked her why she could not believe. Could she not believe what Christ said? Was he a liar? Could she dare to say that she could not believe her God? Well, she did not exactly mean that, but then there were her sins. But, said I, ‘The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.’ Well, she said, she hoped she should have the strivings of the Spirit, and that one day she should get right. ‘My sister,’ said I, ‘I charge you before God, do not get any hope out of that; your business is to come to Christ and to come to Christ now; but if you stop anywhere short of that, in any sort of feelings or experience, then you will never get to your journey’s end.’ A believing sinner’s business is with Jesus and not with the Spirit’s operations. The Spirit works salvation in him, but he is nowhere bidden to look to the Spirit for salvation. No man can come to the Father but by Christ.

For meditation: The fact that we cannot ‘save ourselves’ but have to ‘be saved’ is no excuse for anyone to sit back and hope for the best. God has revealed to us the way to be saved—by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 16:16; John 3:16–17; Romans 10:9; Ephesians 2:8) —and that step of faith is commanded, not suggested (Acts 16:30–31).

Sermon no. 523
26 July (1863)

 

Salvation altogether by grace

‘Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.’ 2 Timothy 1:9

Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 2:11–22

To say that we save ourselves is to utter a manifest absurdity. We are called in Scripture ‘a temple’—a holy temple in the Lord. But shall any one assert that the stones of the edifice were their own architect? Shall it be said that the stones of the building in which we are now assembled cut themselves into their present shape, and then spontaneously came together, and piled this spacious edifice? Should anyone assert such a foolish thing, we should be disposed to doubt his sanity; much more may we suspect the spiritual sanity of any man who should venture to affirm that the great temple of the church of God designed and erected itself.

No: we believe that God the Father was the architect, sketched the plan, supplies the materials, and will complete the work. Shall it be also said that those who are redeemed have redeemed themselves? That slaves of Satan break their own fetters? Then why was a Redeemer needed at all? How should there be any need for Jesus to descend into the world to redeem those who could redeem themselves? Do you believe that the sheep of God, whom he has taken from between the jaws of the lion, could have rescued themselves? It were a strange thing if such were the case. We cannot believe that Christ came to do what the sinners might have done themselves. No. ‘I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me;’ and the redemption of his people shall give glory unto himself only. Shall it be asserted that those who were once dead have spiritually quickened themselves? Can the dead make themselves alive?

For meditation: The Greek usually translated ‘save yourselves’ in Acts 2:40 should be translated ‘be saved’ as found in other places in the New Testament (cf. Acts 2:21,47; 4:12; 16:30–31; Ephesians 2:8). Have you been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18–19) and built into God’s church (Ephesians 2:22; 1 Peter 2:5)?

Sermon no. 703
25 July (Preached 29 July 1866)

Children brought to Christ, not to the font

 

‘Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.’ Mark 10:14

Suggested Further Reading: Deuteronomy 6:4–7

We can say with the apostle John, ‘I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.’ We continue, therefore, to bring them to Christ by daily, constant, earnest prayer on their behalf. As soon as they become of years capable of understanding the things of God, we endeavour to bring them to Christ by teaching them the truth. Hence our Sabbath schools, hence the use of the Bible and family prayer, and catechizing at home. Any person who shall say, ‘Do not teach your children; they will be converted in God’s own time if it be his purpose; therefore leave them to run wild in the streets,’ will certainly both ‘sin against the child’ and the Lord Jesus.

We might as well say, ‘If that piece of ground is to grow a harvest, it will do so if it be God’s good pleasure; therefore leave it, and let the weeds spring up and cover it; do not endeavour for a moment to kill the weeds, or to sow the good seed.’ Why, such reasoning as this would be not only cruel to our children, but grievously displeasing to Christ. Parents! I do hope you are all endeavouring to bring your children to Christ by teaching them the things of God. Let them not be strangers to the plan of salvation.

Never let it be said that a child of yours reached years in which his conscience could act, and he could judge between good and evil, without knowing the doctrine of the atonement, without understanding the great substitutionary work of Christ. Set before your child life and death, hell and heaven, judgment and mercy, his own sin, and Christ’s most precious blood; and as you set these before him, labour with him, persuade him, as the apostle did his congregation, with tears and weeping, to turn unto the Lord.

For meditation: Christian parents should bring their children up ‘in the nurture and admonition of the Lord’ (Ephesians 6:4). This may be harder in non-Christian marriages when only one of the partners becomes a Christian, but it is not hopeless (1 Corinthians 7:14); Timothy was proof (Acts 16:1; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15).

Sermon no. 581
24 July (1864)