C.H. Spurgeon on Exposition

This is a great quote about the proper way to handle Scripture in exposition. It comes from a sermon preached on December 2, 1877, titled “God’s Thoughts and Ways High Above Ours.”

“There are many ways of handling Scripture, but to my mind the freshest and most instructive is to expound it by its surroundings. To pick out a plum here and there is the children’s method, but hardly satisfies students of the Word. ” Let us not rend it,” is exceedingly good advice with regard to Scripture, which is in some sense the garment of God. I will take hold of the central part of the rich piece of silken truth contained in this chapter, and I will lift up the whole fabric before you and bid you observe its texture, and note how wonderfully it is wrought throughout. Exposition is ever nourishing to the Lord’s people . . . .”

Why am I sick?

The Bible gives lots of reasons and truths about illness/sickness. Ultimately the answer is God. He is the God who sends disease (Exodus 15:26), and He is Jehovah Rophe, our Healer (Exodus 15:26). Why he sends the disease is not always because of sin, although many times in Scripture it is.

God plagued the Egyptians with sickness as a judgment (Ex 15:26).

David’s son was sick because of his own sin (2 Sam 12:15).

Jeroboam’s son became sick and died as a mercy from the Lord to spare him from the judgment coming upon his father’s household (1 Kings 14:12-13).

Naaman’s physical trial led him to the one true God (2 Kings 5).

The leprosy of Gehazi was given as a judgment for sin (2 Kings 5).

Even Elisha became sick and died though he had the power to do the miraculous (2 Kings 13:14).

The man born blind was born that way so that Christ could be glorified through him (John 9). (The Gospels alone are a great source of material for this study).

Job was afflicted physically by Satan with the Lord’s permission (Job 2:7).

Sickness in the Corinthian church was evidence of sin by eating the Lord’s Table unworthily (1 Cor 11:30).

Lazarus’ sickness was for the glory of God (John 11:4).

Paul’s sickness enabled him to preach the gospel to the Galatians (Gal 4:13).

Paul’s own thorn in the flesh seems to have been a physical ailment to keep him from pride (2 Cor 12:7).

Hezekiah became sick and was told that he was going to die. His prayer to God was answered and he was healed (Isa 38). His prayer is an excellent argument with God (in a good sense) for continuation of life. He argued that the living give thanks and teach their children about God’s faithfulness. He also intended to worship the LORD with his own songs in the house of the LORD. God’s healing would enable him to write songs that could bring more praise to the Lord (Isa 38:20).

In light of the evidence, it seems that the best application is that God sends sickness and affliction for different reasons. For myself and others, I ought not to assume that sickness or death are due to sin, though they could be. For Paul his sickness turned him to prayer (2 Cor 12). James gives explicit instruction to do just that (James 5:13-14).

Dramatically Preached Spurgeon Sermons

I have been blessed in the last couple of years to listen to sermons by C.H. Spurgeon preached dramatically (like he was preaching them himself). Several of my favorites include “Do You Know Him?” and “Is it Nothing to You?”  My favorite is “A Golden Prayer,” a sermon on Christ’s prayer in John 12, “Father, Glorify Your Name.”

Here’s an excerpt from “A Golden Prayer”:

“Observe right well that the text indicates the deep intent which steadied our Lord’s resolve. Why is Christ resolved to die ? Is it to save men ? Yes, but not as the chief reason. His first prayer is not, ” Father, save my people,” but ” Father, glorify thy name.” The glory of God was the chief end and object of our Saviour’s life and death. It is that the Father’s name may be illustrious that Jesus would have souls redeemed. His passion had for its main intent the exhibition of the attributes of God. And, brethren, how completely he has glorified Jehovah’s name! Upon the cross we see the divine justice in the streaming wounds of the great Substitute : for the Son of God must needs die when sin is laid upon him. There also you behold infinite wisdom, for what but infallible wisdom could have devised the way whereby God might be just and yet the justifier of him that believeth. There, too, is love, rich, free, boundless love—never so conspicuous as in the death of man’s Redeemer. Till this day it still remains a question concerning the atonement which of the letters best is writ, the justice, the wisdom, or the love. In the atonement the divine attributes are all so perfectly glorified that no one crowds out the other: each one has its full display without in the. least degree diminishing the glory of any other. Our blessed Lord, that the Father might be glorified, pushed on to the end which he had set before him. Whatever conflict might be within his spirit, his heart was fixed upon bearing to the death our load, and suffering to the end our penalty.”

These sermons can be purchased in MP3 format via download or CD on http://www.chspurgeon.com/. Many of them can be listened to for free here.

The Self-Sacrificial Nature of Christian Love

One early church pastor wrote of Christians in his day, “We know many among ourselves who have given themselves up to bonds, in order that they might ransom others. Many, too, have surrendered themselves to slavery, that with the price which they received for themselves, they might provide food for others.” (1 Clement 55:2-6)

Christian love is truly unique. Who would give himself up to prison to obtain the release of another? The answer:  Christians did. Moreover, if circumstances were similar today, Christians ought to be willing to do the same. This kind of self-sacrificial action is implied by the New Commandment of Christ himself in John 13:34-35:  “Love one another.”

Christ’s command was so significant to the apostle John that he would say whenever he went to the meeting of the church in his old age, “Little children, love one another.”  Asked why he repeated this so often, John replied, “It is the Lord’s command. If this alone be done, it is enough.”

John had seen this love exhibited in Christ’s own example.  Christ said himself, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Not long after he said these words, Jesus died as a substitute in the place of others.

One well-known Puritan writer Matthew Henry highlights this New Commandment, “Surely we serve a good master, that has summed up all our duty in one word, and that a short word and a sweet word-love, the beauty and harmony of the universe. Loving and being loved is all the pleasure, joy, and happiness, of an intelligent being. God is love (1 Jn. 4:16), and love is His image upon the soul: where it is, the soul is well molded, and the heart fitted for every good work.”