Citizens

         Romans 13:1-14

            May 17, 2020

 

 

 

I will tell you what I told the audience and the Class of 1988  before the prayer at

my oldest daughter’s daughters’ graduation:  This will be the last time this group

will ever be together on earth.  The same can be said for the radio and television

audience today.  We, the same people that speak, listen or watch will never be the

same group together again on earth!

 

 

  The Duty of Christians towards the Civil Government

    and

                             the Laws of the Country (vs. 1-8)

 

 

Charles Spurgeon once said the he thought the sole purpose of Christianity was

to sanctify the secular.” This is in line with Jesus’ teachings that we are to

be “the salt of the earth” and the “light of the world”.  Contrary to modern

thought encouraging “separation of church and state” it is most important

that Christianity should leaven all relations “to the powers that be”. 

 

 

Sadly, on Wednesday afternoon of this week, over so called news television,

I heard it said, in the midst of COVID-19 that Science was the only absolute.

 

Last week I heard a derogatory remark about people who belief in Noah’s Ark!

 

The Secular sure could use some sanctifying!  (CY)

 

Civil government is an institution ordained by God to favor morality, and, if it

professes anything else, IT WILL BREAK DOWN!  The Founding Fathers

of the United States were aware, that without morality, democracy will not

work. 

 

Current Affairs in the government of the United States is troubled by

propaganda and much falsehood.  With the Speaker of the House

in Washington proposing $2000 a month for everyone, it bears out

what I used to teach

 

"Democracy dies as soon as people realize they can vote themselves

money." This is a shorter version of this quote,"The American Republic will

endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the

public's money." Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) (in "Democracy in America" )

 

When I taught history at Hopkinsville High School 40 years ago, I had run

across this and taught it along with the stages a democracy goes through:

 

Cycle of Democracy. “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of

government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote

themselves largesse (generosity in bestowing money or gifts upon others)

from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes

for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with

the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy,

always followed by a dictatorship.

 

Now I ask, how can a nation with great leaders from the leading universities

of America and the world, not know this, or if they do, act like it!

 

Jimmy Carter – Naval Academy, attended Georgia Tech and Jackson State

Ronald Reagan – Eureka College – (an exclamation, a cry of joy or

                                                            satisfaction when one finds or

                                                      discovers something)

George Herbert Walker Bush – 41 – Yale, Harvard

Bill Clinton – Georgetown, Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, Yale Law School

George Walker Bush – 43 – Yale, Harvard

Barak ObamaColumbia, Harvard Law School

Donald Trump – attended Penn, Fordham,

George Washington – Did not go to college

Abraham Lincoln – none, self-educated

Franklin Delano Roosevelt – Harvard and Columbia Law Schools but did not

                                                graduate.

 

The average age of the world's greatest civilizations (democracies?) has been 200 years.

These nations have progressed through this sequence:

 

From bondage to spiritual faith;

From spiritual faith to great courage;

From courage to liberty;

From liberty to abundance;

From abundance to selfishness;

From selfishness to apathy;

From apathy to dependence;

From dependence back into bondage.”

                        Alexander Fraser Tytler

 

(Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee 1747 – 1813) was a Scottish advocate, judge, writer and historian

who served as Professor of Universal History, and Greek and Roman Antiquities at the University of Edinburgh.

 

The Church and State  have distinct spheres. It is as wrong to put the

Church against the state, as to confound the Church and the state. The Church

recognizes the state as a moral institution for securing justice, and the state should

recognize the Church as a Divine institution for securing love. The state enforces

justice by penalties; the Church promotes love by persuasion. There need be, and

should be, no confusion between them.  The prevailing Hedonistic philosophy

of today, has neither the  intelligence, nor the desire, to understand this! 

Thus shall “The wicked be turned into hell and all nations that forget God”

(Psalm 9:17 - CY – 2011)

 

Because the Christian has entered upon a new brotherhood in Christ, he does not cease

to belong to the old brotherhood of natural society. And as in the spiritual brotherhood

humility and love are the twin principles that should regulate all our conduct, so in the

natural commonwealth of the state there should be, analogously, submission towards

the powers, and a love-inspired justice towards private members of the same. In these

verses is inculcated the duty of conscientious submission to state authorities.

 

 

Here, then, as in the whole of life, the religious penetrates and sanctifies

the natural. There is to be a perpetual transfiguration, in our eyes, of the

human with the Divine. This is but an application of the injunction,

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the

glory of God.”  (I Corinthians 10:31)

 

 

                                                on ch. 15:2

 

·         THE PLEASING OF OTHERS, NOT THE PLEASING OF

OURSELVES, IS TO BE THE RULE OF OUR CHRISTIAN LIVING.

Now, this does not mean:

 

Ø      Popularity-hunting. For this is securing a selfish end by means of

gratifying our neighbors. It is self-pleasing in a subtle and deceptive

shape. It is self-pleasing, even though it may involve the degradation

of our neighbor. And it does mean:

 

Ø      The conciliation and even humoring of our neighbour with a view to

his edification. This is real love, going all lengths to serve and edify a

neighbor. We will bear with him, even humor him, with the thoroughly

unselfish end of securing his edification. It is the very essence of public

service. What a contrast it presents to the self-seeking which, alas!

goes on among men under the name of public services!

 

 

·         IN THIS LIFTING UP OF OUR FELLOWS WE SHALL BE

STRENGTHENED BY LOOKING UP TO CHRIST. For the whole spirit

of our Master’s ministry consisted in pleasing ethers and not Himself.

Not, indeed, that men understood His plan. The gospel does not appear at first

to promote men’s pleasure. It humiliates, it breaks them down, it calls for

penitential tenderness; but it secures peace through pardon, and the joy

which comes through believing. Our Lord’s sufferings were consequently

in the long run with a view to the real and abiding pleasure of men. And so

He was constantly lifting them up, so far as they would allow Him. His very

crucifixion was to please others, and secure their edification. A broad view

of Christ’s history, therefore, shows it to have been a pleasing of others,

not of Himself. He became a servant of the circumcision that the Jews

might be brought to peace and joy; He became the Saviour and so the Joy

of the Gentiles. In both respects He was pleasing and edifying others, not

pleasing Himself. His self-sacrificing life becomes thus the fountain-head

for public service.

 

·         THE GOSPEL THUS DISTINGUISHES ITSELF FROM

UTILITARIAN TEACHING (A MIXTURE OF HEDONISM AND

CHRISTIANITY) . For instead of directing us to regulate our

conduct by self-pleasing, which is at bottom the utilitarian principle, it

directs us to please our neighbor unto edification, and in the spirit of

Christ. Nor is our pleasing of our neighbor to secure personal comfort;

this may ultimately be given into the bargain, but it will assuredly be missed

if made our end. “A great German poet and philosopher,” says Dr.

Martineau, “was fond of defining religion as consisting in a reverence for

inferior beings. The definition is paradoxical; but though it does not

express the essence of religion, it assuredly designates one of its effects.

True, there could be no reverence for lower natures, were there not, to

begin with, the recognition of a Supreme Mind; but the moment that

recognition exists, we certainly look on all that is beneath with a different

eye. It becomes an object, not of pity and protection only, but of sacred

respect; and our sympathy, which had been that of a humane fellow-creature,

is converted into the deferential help of a devout worker of God’s

will. And so the loving service of the weak and wanting is an essential part

of the discipline of the Christian life. Some habitual association with the

poor, the dependent, the sorrowful, is an indispensable source of the

highest elements of character.’

 

 

 

 

                                    Citizenship (vs. 1-7)

 

From the admirable spirit which Christianity infuses into society, the

apostle next takes us to the spirit which should regulate the believer’s

relations to the civil magistrate. It is most important that Christianity

should leaven all these relations to the powers that be.I could not,” says

Dr. Arnold, “name easily any branch of human conduct from which the

influence of the gospel has been more completely shut out than this; any

one on which worldly motives are avowed more boldly and more

exclusively. In fact, many men seem to have vaguely confounded the

gospel and the clergy in their notions about these matters; and because

clergymen, like other men, have often interfered in them in the worst

possible spirit, not setting an example of Christian conduct, but plunging

into the lowest motives of passion or interest by which other men are

actuated, there seems a sort of fear that the gospel itself will teach

something mischievous to the public welfare or liberty. But, indeed, in all

moral wisdom, in all duty, whether as private men or citizens, there is but

one Master, even Christ, from whom we can draw nothing but what is pure

and upright.   It is most important, then, to see how the gospel handles the

question of citizenship.

 

CIVIL GOVERNMENT IS AN ORDINANCE OF GOD. It is a Divine

ordinance, and we are not in right relation to it until we recognize this.

Speaking generally, civil society and civil government are ordained of God

to prevent us descending TO BEASTLY LEVELS AGAIN!

 

 

·         CIVIL GOVERNMENT IS ESTABLISHED AS A TERROR TO

EVIL-DOERS. (vs. 2-3.) This is the rough yet salutary morality it

undertakes. If we will only consider what a state of society we should have

if there were no public government to punish crimes (anarchy, a state which

will be characteristic of the end times, and towards which the United States

and the world seems to be gravitating.  CY – 2020)  we can have no

difficulty in recognizing in it s Divine institution. The arrangement about

the manslayer in the olden time was to reinforce the rude justice of the

early age before public justice had grown up into the recognized power

which in civil government it has now assumed.  We thus see that civil

government is an institution which professes to favor morality, and, if it

professed anything else, it would break down. It may not always succeed,

but this is its profession. We are bound to give it a loyal trial, and to submit

to it, so far as it does not dictate anything to its subjects contrary to the

clear command of God. “The fact that an earthly government may be

corrupt and tyrannical does not disprove the Divine origin of government;

any more than the fact that parents may be unfaithful to their duties proves

that the family is not divinely originated; or the fact that a particular

Church may become corrupt proves that the Church is not Divine in its

source.  Paul, however, does not teach here that any degree of tyranny

whatever is to be submitted to by a Christian. If the government attempt to

force him to violate a Divine command — for example, to desist from

preaching the gospel, or to take part in pagan worship — he must resist

even unto death (see Acts 4:19; 5:29). Most of the apostles suffered

martyrdom for this principle.

 

 

When the Church and the state are compared, the Church is out of sight

the cheaper institution. Still, it does not become the Christian, any more than

his Master, to be haggling about tribute; and there will usually be some way,

though not perhaps through a fish’s mouth, of meeting the tax-gatherer’s

demands.

 

Ø      Is the Church to be the tool of the state? Answer: By no means. They

have distinct spheres. It is as false to put the Church against the state, as

to confound the Church and the state. The Church recognizes the state

as a moral institution for securing JUSTICE, and the state should

recognize the Church as a Divine institution for securing LOVE.

The state enforces justice by penalties; the Church promotes love

by persuasion. There need be, and should be, no confusion

                        between them.

 

 

 

 

 

Civil Authority (vs. 1-7)

 

Whatever the form of government, whatever the designation of the ruler, whatever

the rank of the administrator of the law, AUTHORITY  was recognized as of

DIVINE ORIGIN and right.  Government is traced to its source in God.

“Order is Heaven’s first law.”  Where no order reigns, there is no security,

and no progress to better things.  We may learn to regard subordination, rule,

subjection,  and loyalty, as all part of a Divine order imposed upon human society

by the LORD of All!  “Every soul” — every intelligent member of society — is

under an obligation to obey; and resistance to the ruler is resistance to God, and

entails just punishment and retribution.  Government is an ordinance of God,

and rulers are the ministers of God. A bad subject, then, cannot be a good

Christian. (This will fly in the face of those who, purposefully are cronies of

Satan, or unwittingly, are them  “which destroy the earth”  [Revelation 11:18 –

I am talking about those who have undermined, through the courts and judicial

system, the Judaeo-Christian laws upon which this nation was built]  and

that is, when I taught school, I used to offer mega bonus points if any student

could produce a genuine Christian who was not a good citizen!  I NEVER

HAD ANY TAKERS – My apologies for the construction of this series

of sentences – I kinda know how Paul must of felt when he got off on one

of his tangents in trying to write on paper what he truly felt - CY – 2011). 

In our own days, individualism is carried to such an extent that authority is

often disdained and defied, (Can you imagine how these writers over 200

years ago would have reacted towards what has gone on the United States

of America, since 1960, in the name of “freedom of expression” and many

other such excuses for insubordination, rebellion and other sinful practices!!!!

- CY – 2011)  even by those who are by no means the dregs  of society, who

make pretensions to intelligence and virtue. (While I am on a roll here, and

trust that I am “speaking the truth in love” Ephesians 4:15 - I would

like to simply state that, in my personal opinion, since man’s physical body

has many members [I Corinthians 12:12-27] and even a nation is, analogously

so constituted, that those destroying the earth, mentioned above and the
“dregs” mentioned by the writer of this section of the commentary, are

equivalent to “nose hairs” in reference to other body parts.  I will admit

that they are vital, and have a purpose, but they are potentially very

dangerous because in the late 1960’s I had one to get infected and since

it was so close to the brain, could have had long lasting detrimental or

fatal effects, so much that as a precautionary measure, I spent three or

four days in the hospital.  Please keep in mind that all unbracketed or

text not in parenthesis were written at least two to three centuries ago!

Please differentiate between what I have said and the writers of the

Commentary.  In this section, that in blue is the commentary, the

rest is mine, that is bracketed or in parenthesis.  One other statement

and this is very risky on my part here.  I find my attitude towards

those who are bringing to the world  a GLOBAL “anti-christian system”,

eventually culminating in the “anti-christ”, to be much like David

in Psalm 139:21-24 – ‘For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine

enemies take thy name in vain.  Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate

thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?

I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.  Search me,

O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:  And see if

there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Also, Psalm 2:1-4 describes the process with the end result! – CY – 2011)

It is well, therefore, that the inspired teaching should be pondered which

attaches importance so great to order, patriotism, and loyalty.

(And to paraphrase Tom Paine, whom I would not agree with philosophically,

Better to over-react than not to react when such a think as freedom is at

stake!  - CY – 2011)

 

 

From specific admonitions on this subject, the apostle passes naturally to the

principle which, in these regards as well as others, should inspire all our dealings

with our fellow-men.

 

 

 

                        The Christian’s Duty in the Present Age (vs. 11-14)

 

The Christian is not to be insensible to the movements of the world. “Knowing the

time,” says the apostle (v. 11). Mr. Spurgeon says he reads the newspapers to see

how God is governing the world. It is well for us to know what are the current beliefs

and motives of our fellow-men.

 

 

by Spurgeon

THIS passage is a piece of holy teaching set forth under the parable of

rising in the morning and preparing for the work of the day. May the Holy

Spirit help me to place it before you in a clear light.

It is a great mistake in a man’s life when he does not know the times in

which he lives, and how to act in them; and when he does not know the

time as to the day of his own life, so as to apply his heart unto wisdom.

The apostle speaks of his Roman brethren as “knowing the time.” What,

then, is the time of day with the Christian? It is no longer the dead of the

night with us; but “the night is far spent, the day is at hand.”

 

ditto

The light and heat of day are strengthening; the

darkness and chill of night are vanishing; we are getting further off from

the power of ignorance, sin, and despair; we are getting more and more

under the influence of knowledge, holiness, and hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are to avoid evil by pursuing good. “Walk honestly,” not indulging in

intemperance, impurity, and discord, but leading a righteous, sober, godly life.

Deeds of darkness are condemned by the light, revealing their hideousness, whilst

habits of integrity and virtue shrink not from any scrutiny; they shine most lustrous

in the brightest rays. Attain “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of

Christ” (Ephesians 4:13), “growing up into Him who is the Head in all things”

(Ibid. 1:22).  We are now weaving and sewing and donning the vestments that shall be

our glory or our shame THROUGH ETERNITY!

 

The Christian’s Duty in the Present Age (vs. 11-14)

 

The Christian is not to be insensible to the movements of the world. “Knowing the

time,” says the apostle (v. 11). Mr. Spurgeon says he reads the newspapers to see

how God is governing the world. It is well for us to know what are the current beliefs

and motives of our fellow-men.

 

 

·         THE CHRISTIAN’S CONFIDENCE.

 

Ø      The night is far spent.

 

o        The forces of evil are far spent. Some Christians are always looking on

the dark side of things. They see no traces of the breaking day. With

them it is always night. They would have us believe, with Canon Taylor,

that missions are a failure. They would have us believe, with Lord

Wemyss, that prohibition of the liquor traffic is a failure. They would

have us believe that Sunday closing is a failure. But it is those who

want such movements to fail that usually originate such a cry. (As

those in the time of Jeremiah, “.....my people love to have it so, ....

but then God asks the question “.....and what will ye do in the

end thereof?  There is no failure in the forces of right. Failure is

written on the forces of sin. Its night is far spent.

 

o        The clouds of mystery will soon be lifted. There are difficulties in

reconciling religion and science. Yet the difficulties are only seemingly.

They are only temporary clouds. There are difficulties in God’s

providence that we cannot understand. But by-and-by they will all be

made plain.  Every mystery will be solved. “Now we know in part;

but then shall we know even as also we are known.”  (I Corinthians

13:12)

 

o        The dark hours of pain and sorrow will soon be over. How dark is

      the hour of sickness! how dark the hour of bereavement! What

shadows disappointment causes to pass over our lives! But the night

is far spent. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in

the morning.”  (Psalm 30:5)

 

Ø      The day is at hand. THE DAY OF OUR SAVIOUR’S COMING

            IS RAPIDLY DRAWING NEARER!  Already we may hear

            the sound of His chariot-wheels.  (Below are the lyrics of

            the modern song The King is Coming:

 

                                    The King Is Coming

                                                  by

                                    Bill & Gloria Gaither

 

The marketplace is empty
No more traffic in the streets
All the builders' tools are silent
No more time to harvest wheat
Busy housewives cease their labors
In the courtroom no debate
Work on earth is all suspended
As the King comes thro' the gate

 

O the King is coming
The King is coming
I just heard the trumpets sounding
And now His face I see
O the King is coming
The King is coming
Praise God, He's coming for me

 

Happy faces line the hallways
Those whose lives have been redeemed
Broken homes that He has mended
Those from prison He has freed
Little children and the aged
Hand in hand stand all aglow
Who were crippled, broken, ruined
Clad in garments white as snow

 

O the King is coming
The King is coming
I just heard the trumpets sounding
And now His face I see
O the King is coming
The King is coming
Praise God, He's coming for me

 

I can hear the chariots rumble
I can see the marching throng
The flurry of God's trumpets
Spells the end of sin and wrong
Regal robes are now unfolding
Heaven's grandstand's all in place
Heaven's choir now assembled
Start to sing "Amazing Grace"

 

O the King is coming
The King is coming
I just heard the trumpets sounding
And now His face I see
O the King is coming
The King is coming
Praise God, He's coming for me

 

Gradually His kingdom has been making progress in the earth,

 

Ø      His truth has been gaining the victory over error.

Ø      The Reformation shook off the dust of centuries from the Word of God.

Ø      The discovery of printing had already prepared the way for the spread

      of the emancipated Bible.

Ø      Modern Technology has prepared for the Word to be spread over the

                        earth.  (Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10 – The Word is proclaimed on

                        many cable television stations, the Word is all over Facebook,

                        at least in the Bible Belt!  CY – 2020)

Ø      Old kingdoms that encouraged error and fostered ecclesiastical

      despotism have been falling.

Ø      New nations have arisen to sway the destinies of the world — the

nations of the Bible-loving, liberty-loving, Anglo-Saxon race.

Ø      Old wrongs have been redressed.

Ø      Our King is coming. “The day is at hand.”

 

o                                                   THE CHRISTIAN’S CALL.

 

§         A call to activity. “Now it is high time to awake out of sleep” (v.11).

It is plain that this exhortation is addressed to Christians, for the writer

adds, “for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” Many

Christians are asleep. They are inactive and idle, and are doing nothing to

prepare the way of the Lord. It may be addressed also to the unconverted.

This very passage, the closing part of this thirteenth chapter, was the

means of converting St. Augustine.

 

Ø      A call to amendment. “Let us cast off the works of darkness” (v. 12).

Some works are literally works of darkness, as for example those specified

in the thirteenth verse. Drunkenness and impurity are most practiced in the

night. “They that be drunken are drunken in the night” (I Thessalonians

5:7).  But “works of darkness” may be regarded as including all sinful

works. SIN LOVES CONCEALMENT!  (John 3:19-20) -  The

Christian is to cast off everything that will not bear the light, to have no

 fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11).  “The

day is at hand.” How shall we abide the day of our Lord’s coming if

we do not, by Divine help, separate ourselves from sin?

 

Ø      A call to conflict. Let us put on the armor of light” (v. 12). We are

to wage war with our own temptations, and with the evil that is in the

world. Let our armor be the armor of light. Let us not fight the world

with its own weapons — with hatred, or bitterness, or deceit. Let

our weapons be good weapons — the weapons of truth, justice, love.

They will conquer. Let us never do evil that good may come  (ch. 3:8).

 

Ø      A call to Christ-likeness. “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” (v.14).

That is to say, Be clothed with His spirit. This is the secret of strength.

Like Sir Galahad, whose strength was as the strength of ten because his

heart was pure, the man who is Christ-like in spirit will overcome all

temptations, and will grapple victoriously with all difficulties. This is

emphatically a call which the Christian needs to hear in the present age

when there is so much in the Church as well as in the world that is

 contrary to the spirit of Christ. Let us, then, hear the trumpet-call of

duty, and, as we go forth, let us brace up our spirits with the inspiring

thought that “the night is far spent, and the day is at hand.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

glean last three homilies

 

 

 

 

A Startling Summons (vs. 11-14)

 

The admonition of this passage is especially addressed to Christians; yet to

Christians who stand peculiarly in need of a rousing appeal and summons,

to call them to a more spiritual and a more watchful life.

 

  • THE CRISIS OF LIFE.

 

Ø      The night is well-nigh gone. Between our Lord’s first and second

comings stretches the dawn of the world. Behind His first coming lay the

night of humanity. Beyond His second advent the daylight beams, with

the brightness of knowledge, of holiness, of happiness, of glory.

 

Ø      Salvation is nearer than ever. In one sense, indeed, salvation is a

Present blessing; for we are delivered from condemnation if we are in

Christ Jesus.  In another sense it is future; for we shall hereafter receive

the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls (I Peter 1:9).  It is

something to be looked forward to with keenest joy of hope, something

the prospect of which may well inspire us to endurance and to toil.

 

  • THE SUMMONS OF GOD.

 

Ø      To spiritual energy. To such a period, drowsy, slumberous inactivity

is utterly inappropriate.

 

Ø      To the renunciation of all that interferes with the fulfillment of our

calling and the realization of our hope.

 

Ø      To a spiritual warfare and campaign.

 

Ø      To purity of body and of mind, as those who are in their whole nature

redeemed, that in their whole nature they may be consecrated.

 

 

Night and Day (vs. 11-14)

 

Christian motives are brought forward to incite to moral duties. We are called upon

to do right, not only by the voices of expediency and of authority, but by the voice

of revelation. Christians are addressed as those who know the seasons, who

discern the signs of the times, who regard the present as a period of probation,

 of discipline, of education, and whose gaze is ever forwards, whose hope is in their

Lord’s return to judge and to save.

 

  • THE RETROSPECT OF THE PAST. “The night is far spent.”

 

Ø      The spiritual night of the world is passing away. The true Light is

shining, and the radiance of His beams is illumining the darkest and

most distant shores.

 

Ø      The night of time is departing, and eternity, resurrection, the

new heavens and the new earth, are about to dawn.

 

Ø      The night of life is nearly spent, and the day of immortality

approaches. If this is the case with all, how manifestly is it so with

the aged!  (Through God’s Kindness I am 68 – CY – 2011)

 

  • THE PROSPECT OF THE FUTURE.

 

Ø      “The day is at hand.” So far as the opportunity for labor is

concerned, we may admit that the night cometh, when no man can

work” (John 9:4).  But, in another sense, it is a welcome truth that

“the day dawns, and the shadows flee away” (Song of

Solomon  2:17).  Full light shall soon be shed upon our intellectual

and spiritual darkness. The fears, the ignorance, the doubts of the

present shall cease to be; we shall see Christ as He is (I John

3:2), and we shall know even as we are known.  (I Corinthians 13:12)

 

Ø      “Salvation is nearer to us than when we first believed” A fortress is

beleaguered by the forces of the foe. The garrison, long besieged, is

feeble, weary, and all but exhausted, ill supplied with provisions and

ammunition, and in great straits. But relief is planned, and is

 approaching.  At night the prospect seemed dark. But now, when

the morning breaks, the besieged, looking from their walls, behold the

banners of the deliverer drawing near, and hear the welcome music

of his march. Salvation is at hand! It is in this light that we are

encouraged to look at life, at time. Now we are besieged by our

spiritual foe, and our condition is often apparently desperate. But

our redemption draweth night (Luke 21:28), and our salvation is

nearer. The perfection of our salvation, the fulfillment of the promise

of victory, — this is in the future.

 

  • THE DUTY OF THE PRESENT. This is not the time to indulge mere

sentiment, whether of retrospect or of anticipation. The living present

demands all our energy.

 

Ø      “It is time to awake out of sleep;” to arouse ourselves from

Indifference to concern, from half-belief to earnest faith, from

inactivity to zeal.

 

Ø      To “cast off the works of darkness.” By the clothing, the

Impediments thus designated, we understand the negligence,

the sins, which are inconsistent with true spirituality.

 

Ø      To “put on the armor of light.” Holiness and diligence, patience

And devotedness, — these are the spiritual exercises appropriate to

those who have a hope so glorious and promises so sure as ours.

Let the soldier see to his weapons, the servant to his work, the

steward to his trust!

 

Every crisis of human life, of Church history; every day which tells of the flight of

time; every instance of human mortality, — speaks loudly to us, summoning us, as

children of the day, to live as in anticipation of the Divine Deliverer’s speedy and

welcome approach.  “To the solemn graves, near a lonely cemetery, my heart

like a muffled drum is beating funeral marches.”  Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867).

 

 

Awake and Arm! (vs. 11-14)

 

It is strange that, at the very commencement of a new dispensation, the

prospect of its close should be so often presented to the view. No sooner

had Christ’s first coming ended, than His people were taught to anticipate

His second coming. Thus the thoughts and affections of Christians are

clustered around their Lord, and the revelation of the past suggests the

approaching epiphany. The contrasts of this passage are very striking.

When carefully analyzed, they appear:

 

  • As applied to CONDITION.

 

Ø      The night of danger is nearly over. This applies to the individual,

to any community, to the whole Church.

 

Ø      The morning of deliverance is dawning. An inspiration and

comfort to the pilgrims, the soldiers, who are often oppressed by

the gloom of the present perils.

 

  • As applied to CHARACTER.

 

Ø      The works of night are to be abandoned. These belong to the

era which now lies in the remote distance, and from which Christ

has emancipated His people.

 

Ø      The life of the spiritual day is to be adopted. If the flesh and its

lusts are to be crucified, what is to be crowned? The Lord Jesus

is to be “put on,” the armor of light is to be taken and worn; and

the Christian soldier is to go forth to meet the coming day, with his

face towards the rising sun, with his heart bounding with delight at

his great Captain’s long-expected appearance.

 

It is the blessed function of the Holy Spirit to see to it that before the Bridegroom

cometh, His bride, and every individual soul that makes up her mystical person,

shall be found clothed in His spiritual perfection as with a garment without seam,

woven from the top throughout. Beyond this we cannot go. This is the close and

the secret of the whole exhortation to the pilgrims of the dawn. They have come up

out of the night at the sound of His awakening voice, and have left their

Egyptian darkness for ever. They are wrestling with the dangers of the

morning, rejoicing in its partial satisfactions. But supremely and above all

they are intent upon the coming day; in their pathway there is no death,

but they wait for the more abundant life; they are full of trembling and

solemn expectation of all that the day will pour out of its unfathomable

mysteries. But the end of all their expectation is the Person of their Lord.

And to prepare for Him by being like Himself is the sum of all their preparation.

May we all thus PUT ON CHRIST AND BE LIKE HIM!

 

 

 

 

The following is an excerpt from:

 

                    MEN WITHOUT HEART, SIGHT,

                               OR HEARING.

 

      DELIVERED ON LORD’S-DAY MORNING, JANUARY 8TH, 1882,

 

                                                   BY C. H. SPURGEON,      ready  pt. 3

 

 

AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.

 

Yet the Lord hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears

to hear, unto this day.” Deuteronomy 29:4.

 

 

 

I would like to say to some of you that God has been setting before you an open door,

and yet you have not perceived him, nor loved him. He would make saints of you

and you are content to be money-grubbers. You have judged yourselves

unworthy of the prize which he has set before you. You do not know what

a happy lot you have declined. So lately you were a young man, — you are

getting to middle life now,-and you do not know what golden

opportunities you have wasted. As Cleopatra melted pearls and swallowed

them at a draught, so have you drunk down the possibilities of glory as if

they were common things. What might not God have done with some of

you if your hearts had been given to him years ago. By this time you might

have achieved a lifework, glorious to God, honorable to yourself, and

happy to your friends. The stuff is in you which might have been molded

into a minister, a missionary, a soul-winner, and you might have been

among the happiest and best of men. Nor does the waste end with yourself,

you are causing damage to many others. Your children arc growing up to

follow your follies, wasting their lives as you have squandered yours Oh,

had you yielded to Jesus years ago your sons might have been your honor

and comfort, and your daughters your joy and delight. You have flung

away such opportunities as could not be bought for gold. Thus saith the

Lord, “ Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked

in my ways! 1 should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my

hand against their adversaries. The haters of the Lord should have

submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for

ever.” Happy are God’s people, but wretched are they who being placed

where they could see God’s hand yet will not see it, where they could hear

God’s voice yet will not hear it, but refuse the kingdom of heaven which

hath come so near unto them.

 

So they went from one sin to another because they had not a heart

to perceive, nor ears to hear their God.

 

Hence they frequently suffered. A plague broke out at one time, and a

burning at another; at one time they were visited with fever, and anon the

earth opened beneath them; one day the Amalekites smote them, another

day fiery serpents leaped up from the sand, and they died by thousands,

being poisoned by their bites. They suffered much and often, and in all their

trials they did but reap what they had sown. A man does not know what he

is doing when he sins. We tell our naughty children that we have rods in

pickle for them; and this is assuredly the case with the great Father, who

hath chastisement laid up for the people who wilfully revolt from him. He

brings forth sorrow and wrath for those who harden their hearts and

continue in their iniquities. Ah, my hearers, how many of you are this day

reaping what your own hands have sown.

 

III. I conclude by noticing what was THE MOURNFUL RESULT of these

people being so highly favored and privileged, and yet not seeing nor

discerning their God. The result was, first, that they missed a happy

portion. I can hardly imagine how happy the children of Israel might have

been. (See Psalm 81:13-16) They left Egypt with a high hand and an outstretched

arm, their ears were hung with jewels, and their purses were filled with riches, while

around them manna dropped from heaven, and cool streams flowed at their

side. They might have made a quick march to the promised land, and at

once entered their rest, for their God who had sent the hornet before them

would soon have driven out their adversaries “ How should one have

chased a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight.” In the land of

promise they would have dwelt securely, and God would have given them

rest. Then would the heavens have heard the earth, and the earth would

have yielded such harvests that one year in seven they would have had no

need either to sow or reap, but would have spent their whole time in

praising God; and then a jubilee would have come every seventh seven, in

which with high-sounding cymbals they would magnify the Most High.

(At the Jubilee , the 49th and 50th years of the cycle there would have been two

consecutive years like every seveneth described above)  They would have

known no invading enemy, and felt neither blast, nor blight, nor mildew;

in fact, they would have been the happiest nation under heaven: “He should

have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock

should I have satisfied thee.” They flung all this on one side: they would

not have God, and so they could not have prosperity. They walked contrary

to Him, and He walked contrary to them; they would not obey him, and

therefore his auger smoked against them. Think, moreover, what a glorious

destiny they threw aside. Had they been equal to the occasion, by God’s

grace they might have been a nation of kings and priests, they might have

been the Lord’s missionaries to all lands, the light-bearers to all peoples.

Every arrangement was made to enable

them to live a godly, holy, joyous, sanctified life. They ate angels’ food,

and they might have lived angels’ lives, acting as heralds, to tell out to

others what wonders God had wrought for them. Alas, they could not see

the moral grandeur of so high a calling, and they thought more of eating

flesh than of honoring the Lord and teaching his law. I would like to say to

some of you that God has been setting before you an open door, and yet

you have not perceived him, nor loved him. He would make saints of you

and you are content to be money-grubbers. You have judged yourselves

unworthy of the prize which he has set before you. You do not know what

a happy lot you have declined. So lately you were a young man, — you are

getting to middle life now,-and you do not know what golden

opportunities you have wasted. As Cleopatra melted pearls and swallowed

them at a draught, so have you drunk down the possibilities of glory as if

they were common things. What might not God have done with some of

you if your hearts had been given to him years ago. By this time you might

have achieved a lifework, glorious to God, honorable to yourself, and

happy to your friends. The stuff is in you which might have been molded

into a minister, a missionary, a soul-winner, and you might have been

among the happiest and best of men. Nor does the waste end with yourself,

you are causing damage to many others. Your children arc growing up to

follow your follies, wasting their lives as you have squandered yours Oh,

had you yielded to Jesus years ago your sons might have been your honor

and comfort, and your daughters your joy and delight. You have flung

away such opportunities as could not be bought for gold. Thus saith the

Lord, “ Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked

in my ways! 1 should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my

hand against their adversaries. The haters of the Lord should have

submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for

ever.” Happy are God’s people, but wretched are they who being placed

where they could see God’s hand yet will not see it, where they could hear

God’s voice yet will not hear it, but refuse the kingdom of heaven which

hath come so near unto them.

 

Another result was that while they missed so high a position, they went on

sinning. As they did not learn the lesson God was teaching them, namely,

that he was God, and that to serve him was their joy and their prosperity,

they went from one evil to another, provoking the Lord to jealousy. From

repining and murmuring they went on to rebelling. “ Let us make a

captain,” said they, “ and let us return into Egypt.” From being idolatrous

they became lascivious, and fell into the sin of uncleanness with the women

of Moab. Often they were actual idolaters, and always they were unstable

of heart. So they went from one sin to another because they had not a heart

to perceive, nor ears to hear their God.

 

Hence they frequently suffered. A plague broke out at one time, and a

burning at another; at one time they were visited with fever, and anon the

earth opened beneath them; one day the Amalekites smote them, another

day fiery serpents leaped up from the sand, and they died by thousands,

being poisoned by their bites. They suffered much and often, and in all their

trials they did but reap what they had sown. A man does not know what he

is doing when he sins. We tell our naughty children that we have rods in

pickle for them; and this is assuredly the case with the great Father, who

hath chastisement laid up for the people who wilfully revolt from him. He

brings forth sorrow and wrath for those who harden their hearts and

continue in their iniquities. Ah, my hearers, how many of you are this day

reaping what your own hands have sown.

 

At last this evil ended terribly. The Lord lifted his hand to heaven, and

swore that the rebellious generation should not enter into his rest, and they

began to die by wholesale till Moses cried, “We are consumed by thine

anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.” Not one of the men that came

out of Egypt, save only Joshua and Caleb, reached the promised land.

Whenever they pitched their tents at eventide the first thing was to

celebrate the funerals of the day. The tribes marched on, and On the march

they stumbled into their graves, till the whole of that peninsula in which

they had to wander up and down for forty years became one vast cemetery,

wherein the thousands of Israel were all buried. Who slew all these? Not by

the sword of the enemy nor by the arrow of the foe were they destroyed;

but sin laid them in heaps as in the day of battle. They could not enter in

because of their unbelief. The land that flowed with milk and honey lay

smiling in the calm sunlight, on the other side of Jordan, but they could not

enter in because they had no heart to perceive, nor eyes to see, nor cars to

hear the Lord and His Hord. And this is the main misery of your condition,

O ye careless ones, that you will not be able to enter into God’s rest either

here or hereafter. This is the misery of it to me, that I must set Christ

before some of you and you will never have him; that I must extol his

atoning blood, but you will refuse to be washed in it; that I mast go on

declaring my Lord’s message as long as this tongue can move, and bidding

you believe in Jesus Christ and find eternal life, but still of some of you I

shall have always to say, “The Lord hath not given you an heart to

perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.”

Alas, your eyes will be opened one day, in another sense. “The rich man

seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” Who was that? That

was a Jew of the kind I have described, who had everything in this life,

being clothed in purple, and faring sumptuously every day, but he had no

heart to perceive nor eyes to see. “In hell he lift up his eyes, being in

torments.” Oh, my hearers, hell’s torments will open your eyes. Will you

wait till then? O ye ungodly ones, you will think then. I pray God you may

have sense enough to think now, while thinking will be of use to you. If

there be a heaven, seek it; if there be a hell, escape it; if there be a God,

love him; if there be a Christ, trust him; if there he sin, seek to be washed

from it; if there be pardon, rest not till you have it. Oh do not mock your

Savior! Do not make game of eternal realities! Be in earnest about this, and

in earnest at once. If you must play the fool, trifle with something less

precious than your souls. Procure toys less expensive than your own

immortal destinies. Oh, that God would bless this word to you careless

ones, that you may feel at once that you do not feel as you should, and

begin to cry to God to give you feeling; that you may see that you do not

see, and begin to cry, “Lord, open my eyes;” that you may hear this

morning a voice which shall make you feel that you do not hear as you

ought to hear, and therefore must ne’er cry to God to give you hearing.

Remember that spiritual life is from God only. It is his gift, and it is not

bestowed according to merit, but is given by pure grace to the unworthy.

Seek it, and you shall have it, for so it is written, “He that asketh receiveth,

he that seeketh findeth and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Will

your ears again refuse the language of his grace? Will you still go to your

farm and to your merchandise, to your labor and to your amusement, and

reject the voice that calls you to glory and immortality? Will you trample

upon the bleeding love of Jesus? Oh, then, what shall I do, and to whom

shall I turn? I must go back to my Master, mourning with Isaiah, “Who

hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”

Lord, reveal thine arm, and then they will believe the report. Amen and

Amen.