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Charles Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening"
Devotional: September 21st
“The world is crucified unto Me, and I unto the world.”
Jesus did not wish to win disciples by mistake. He would not have men follow him without knowing the terms upon which he would receive them as disciples. He therefore told them plainly that he must be everything or nothing; he claims the first place in the heart; even parents and children must be second Jo him. He must be so paramount that for his sake all other dear ones would be abandoned, if need be, and life itself would be relinquished for love of him. Less love to Jesus than this is no love at all. Do we love him with an all-absorbing, masterly affection? If not, we have not yet learned to be his disciples.
Still further, our Lord proceeds to lay down the terms of discipleship. His followers must suffer loss and shame, and be willing to do so, or they have not learned the first elements of the faith. Jesus denied himself for the good of others, and for the truth’s sake, and so must we, or we cannot be his followers. What say we to this?
To make a profession of religion and not to consider what it will cost us is to subject ourselves to ridiculous failure. We must give Jesus all our heart, and be willing to suffer for his sake. Can we carry this out by the Spirit’s help? If not, it is better not to profess to be Christians.
We may not be called actually to do so, but we must be quite ready to lose all for Jesus’ sake, or else we are not his true followers. What martyrs have actually done we must be willing to do, or we have not the grace of God in us.
If Christianity itself could become powerless, of what good would it be? If a man renewed by grace could become like other men, how could he be saved? If the Spirit of God and his regeneration could fail, what would remain? Blessed be God, such a failure shall never occur; but if it could, the result must be final and total destruction.
The apostles and the first believers were ready to sacrifice all things for Jesus; they did not ask to walk with the truth in its silver slippers, but were willing to go through the mire with her. Paul is a notable instance of this, for he says, Philippians 3:7-11.
Better far to die for Christ than live by apostacy. Gain by selling Christ would be deadly loss; loss for him is gain. May the Lord enable us calmly to choose Christ and his cross and to forsake sin and its transitory pleasures. Amen.
“This man receiveth sinners.”
Then drew near unto him all the publicans or tax-gatherers
They filled the inner circle, being anxious to catch every word. The Lord Jesus was so kind and affable, that they felt at home with him. He had none of the repelling pride of the Pharisaic doctors, but his loving interest in the fallen classes, like a loadstone, drew them around him.
They formed an outer ring of grumbling spies, carping at all that he said and did. In their zeal to find fault with him, they uttered that which has ever remained as his highest praise. It is for us poor sinners a signal mercy that Jesus does receive the guilty, and commune with them. Let us ask him to receive us again at this moment, and eat with us, for it is still true, that “this man receiveth sinners.” The cavilling of the Pharisees drew from our Lord that richest of all his gospel parables, which we are now about to read. It is but one picture, though painted in three panels.
This first picture describes the joy of the Son of God in mans salvation. He is the Good Shepherd, and cares for each one of his sheep. To rescue the lost, he left the saints and angels in heaven, and traversed this wilderness world. He finds those who are not seeking him, and, with hands of love and shoulders of power, brings them home, making himself and all holy beings glad at the finding of the lost. If for us to be saved gives to the Saviour so muck joy, there must be hope for the very worst. Is it not so?
The second picture of the one great parable sets forth the work of the Holy Spirit through the church. Man is a precious thing; he bears the image of God; but he is lost. The Spirit, by the church, seeks the lost treasure. The candle of truth is brought, and much trouble is taken by the preaching of the searching word to seek for the lost. Lost souls are found, and then the church is glad, and God himself, before whom angels stand, is full of rejoicing. Whatever we may do, he values the pieces minted in his own mint, and has no pleasure in their being lost. What comfort it ought to be to anxious souls when they learn that their salvation will give joy to the heart of him whom angels adore. One repenting sinner is more joy to God than a new-made world. Let us return to our loving Lord, and grieve him no more. Those who are once found by divine grace are saved, for the angels would not rejoice prematurely over one who might yet be lost. Heavenly joy is never rash; angels cannot be supposed to have rejoiced too soon. True penitents are saved, and therefore, before they enter heaven holy beings rejoice over them with unalloyed delight, expecting to see them ere long in glory.
To see a sinner saved,
Makes glad th’ angelic choir;
O’erwhelmed with mightier ecstasies
They lift their praises higher.
From every golden string
Sublimer praises sound,
The dead restored to life they sing,
The wandering sinner found
Found, to be lost no more,
Alive, in life to stay,
And love, and wonder, and adore
Through one eternal day.
the First Week of Advent
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