Grieving for the Departed

Posted: Saturday, January 6, 2018 in Counseling, Pastoral

The holiday season can be a difficult time for those who have lost loved ones over the past year. I encouraged our saints to be much in prayer for this particular group over the past days. I ran across the following from a sermon by Robert Murray McCheyne on 1 Corinthians 7:29a: “This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short.” [ESV] I found it interesting that he dealt with the topic of a godly grief but found it helpful for my future counsel in this matter. May it feed your soul as well…

Sit loose to the griefs of this world. They that weep should be as though they wept not. This world is the vale of tears. There are always some mourning. No sooner is the tear dried up on one cheek that it trickles down another. No sooner does one widow lay aside her weeds, than another takes them up. Those that are in Christ should weep as though they wept not; “for the time is short.” Do you weep over those that died in the Lord? It is right to weep: “Jesus wept.” Yet weep as though you wept not; “for the time is short.” They are not lost, but gone before. The sun, when it sets, is not lost; it is gone to shine in another hemisphere; and so have they gone to shine in a brighter world. It is self-love that makes you mourn for them; for they are happy. You would not mourn if they were with a distant friend on earth–why do you mourn that they are with the sinner’s Friend? “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore, neither shall the sun light upon them, nor the heat; for the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto fountains of living waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Rev. 6:16,17). “The time is short;” and you will follow after. A few days, and you will be leaning together on the bosom of Jesus; you are nearer them today than you were yesterday. “The time is short;” and you will meet with all the redeemed at the right hand of Christ–we shall mingle our voices in the new song, and wave the eternal palm! “Weep as though you wept not.”

Do you weep over those that died out of the Lord? Ah! there is deeper cause for weeping here; and yet the time is short, when all this will be explained to you, and you will not be able to shed a tear over the lost. A little while, and you will see Jesus fully glorified, and you will not be able to wish anything different from what has happened. When Aaron lost his two sons, he help his peace.

Advertisements

Killing Sin

Posted: Thursday, January 4, 2018 in Pastoral, Puritans, Resolutions

The Puritan John Owen wrote, “Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it while you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.” Jonathan Edwards is known for his known for his resolutions. His Resolution 56: “Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.”

Yesterday I wrote concerning the resolve to know God’s Word – to be in the Word of God so that the Word of God might be in you. This is the first and necessary resolve in our battle against the devil, the world, and our own flesh… So that we might be actively engaged with the sword of the Spirit against sin, slaying our sin before it destroys us and others.

William Gurnall, another of the Puritans, had the following in his excellent work, The Christian in Complete Armour. This is taken from a devotional from that work dated January 4 titled “The Christian’s Call to Service”:

51PWUMvvh+L._AC_US218_

The soldier is summoned to a life of active duty, and so is the Christian. The very nature of the calling precludes a life of ease. If you thought to be a summer soldier, consider your commission carefully. Your spiritual orders are rigorous. Like the apostle, I would not have you be ignorant on this point and will, therefore, list a few of your directives.

Those sins which have lain interest nearest your heart must now be trampled under your feet. And what courage and resolution (italics mine) this requires! You think Abraham was tested to the limit when called upon to take Isaac, “thine only son… whom thou lovest” (Genesis 22:2), and offer him up with his own hands. Yet what was that to this: “Soul, take the lust which is the child dearest to your heart, your Isaac, the sin from which you intend to gain the greatest pleasure. Lay hands on it and offer it up; pour out its blood before Me; run the sacrificing knife into the very heart of it–and do it joyfully!”

This is more than the human spirit can bear to hear. Our lust will not lie so patiently on the altar as Isaac, nor as the Lamb brought dumb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7). Our flesh will roar and shriek, rending the heart with its hideous cries. Indeed, who can express the conflict, the wrestlings, the convulsions of spirit we endure before we can out our heart into such a command? Or who can fully recount the cleverness with which such a lust will plead for itself?

When the Spirit convicts you of sin, Satan will try to convince you, “It is such a little one–spare it.” Or he will bribe the soul with a vow of secrecy: “You can keep me and your good reputation, too. I will not be seen in your company to shame you among your neighbors. You may shut me up in the attic of your heart, out of sight, if only you will let me now and then have the wild embraces of your thoughts and affections in secret.”

Be resolved to know the Word of God — and then go to battle with it! Remember Christ, who when tempted by Satan overpowered him with the Word (Matthew 4; Luke 4). “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.”

“Surely” – Knowing God’s Word

Posted: Wednesday, January 3, 2018 in Pastoral, Resolutions, Scripture

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying,
“You may surely eat of every tree of the garden,
but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,
for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
(Genesis 2:16-17)

One of the popular resolutions that believers make in a New Year is to read their Bible through. And this is an important resolve! There are many plans available that will take you through the entire Bible as it is written, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. I prefer the method that takes you through the Bible chronologically. Others take you through the New Testament only, once or twice in a year. The available methods is endless.

I cannot stress enough the importance of you getting into the Word of God in order to get the Word of God into you. We face a powerful adversary who seeks to find a way to bring us down, and his fiery dart is often either one’s ignorance of God’s Word or one’s apathy towards God’s Word. It is important that we know God’s Word, word-for-word, because God didn’t waste any words in giving us His Word. I understand that words vary from translation to translation, and that is why it is important to have an English version that is close to the Hebrew and the Greek, the original languages that the Old Testament and New Testament were written. You can find helps with that, or ask your pastor for some guidance. The point – know God’s Word as He gave it to us.

Case in point is found in the beginning – in some of God’s first words to man found in Genesis 2:16-17. I have emphasized a word – a word that God used in communication with Adam – a word that is significant when Satan approached Eve in all of his craftiness in Genesis 3:1. Notice the very first words the evil one used with Eve: “Did God actually say…” Stop there for a moment. If Satan were to come to you and ask, “Did God actually say…” would you know what God actually said? Not what you think He said or something close to what He said or what you have made it out to say, but what He actually said? Satan asked Eve, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

It is in Eve’s response to Satan’s question that we see the importance of knowing God’s Word, word-for-word. Notice what happens when Eve responded in v. 2. She began correctly. “No, Satan, that is not what God said.” Well, she didn’t say that but that is the thought behind her words, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden.” But notice something missing? One word, “Surely.” Some translations have “freely.” Regardless, the emphasis is on God’s gracious provision for Adam and Eve in the garden. They had access to any tree, every tree, all the trees, 24-hours a day. They had it all – they could surely eat of every tree in the garden. The focus was on His provision, not his prohibition. Eve’s response minimized the grace of God’s provision.

But she went on in v. 3 to tell Satan what she remembered God said, “But God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” And here is where Satan knows he has her. If you will notice, this isn’t even close to what God actually said. In fact, it changes what He said altogether. First, she neglected to name the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as God did in 2:17. It was certainly true that this tree was in the midst of the garden (2:9). This could mean it was in a central place in the garden, but geographical location was not the issue. It was what the tree provided that was the issue – and a damning one at that!

Second, she totally left out “for in the day you eat of it.” She neglected the immediacy of the consequence – on that day.

Third, she added to what God said, “neither shall you touch it.” Now in fairness, it would probably be prudent to stay away from the tree, not even go near the tree, not even touch the tree, as a guard against eating it. But God did not say that they would die if they touched it, only if they ate it. Eve was the first Pharisee. The Pharisees were known for adding all sorts of laws heaped upon laws to “aid” a person in keeping the one law that mattered – God’s law, what He actually said. And some of these laws were wise, others not so much. But in adding to God’s requirements, and in providing consequences for breaking those laws that God’s law did not stipulate, they did not “aid” the people but only added to their misery.

But perhaps the most significant error is how Eve finished her reply, “lest you die.” In 2:17 God said, “You shall surely die.” Eve said that He said, “lest you die.” Quite a difference, don’t you think? She again minimized what God had said and the magnitude of the consequence. “Shall surely die” – “lest you die.” Matthew Henry noted, “She seems a little to waver about the threatening, and is not so particular and faithful in the repetition of that as of the precept. God has said, In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die; all she makes of that is, Lest you die. Note, Wavering faith and wavering resolutions give great advantage to the tempter.”

And Eve gave the tempter a great advantage. The one who knew God’s Word better than she didn’t leave out the surely, “You will not surely die” (v. 4). This was a lie, a lie with hateful, destructive intent. God said, “You will surely die.” Satan said, “You will not surely die.” And the tragedy – who did Eve believe? And why? “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (v. 5). And this was absolutely true (3:22). However, this was the way or sure death!

Do not waver in your resolution to get into the Word of God so that the Word of God can get into you! I trust you see the importance. One of Satan’s most fiery darts is to distort God’s Word. “Did God actually say…” I pray you know!

Day 4 of our Christmas meditations with Spurgeon… Merry Christmas!

How complex is the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ! Almost in the same breath the Prophet calls Him a “Child,” and a “Counselor,” a “Son,” and “the Everlasting Father.” This is no contradiction, and to us scarcely a paradox, but it is a mighty marvel that He who was an Infant should at the same time be Infinite—He who was the Man of Sorrows should also be God over all, blessed forever—and that He who is in the Divine Trinity always called the Son, should nevertheless be correctly called “the
Everlasting Father.”

How forcibly this should remind us of the necessity of carefully studying and rightly understanding the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ! We must not suppose that we shall understand Him at a glance. A look will save the soul, but patient meditation alone can fill the mind with the knowledge of the Savior. Glorious mysteries are hidden in His Person. He speaks to us in plain language, and He manifests Himself openly in our midst, but yet in His Person itself there is a height and depth which  human intellect fails to measure…

… In what sense is Jesus a Father? Answer, first. He is federally a Father representing those who are in Him, as the head of a tribe represents his descendants. The Apostle Paul comes to our help here, for in the memorable chapter in Corinthians he speaks of those who are in Adam, and then he talks of a second Adam.

Adam is the father of all living. He federally stood for us in the garden, and federally fell and ruined us all. He was the representative man by whose obedience we should have been blessed, but through whose disobedience we have been made sinners. The curse of the Fall comes upon us because Adam stood in a relation towards us in which none of us stand towards our fellows. He was the representative head for us—and what a fall was there when he fell—every one of us in his loins fell in him. “In Adam all die.”

Since his day there has been but one other here to the human race  federally . It is true, Noah was the father of the present race of men, for we have all sprung from him, but there was no covenant with Noah in which he represented his posterity. There was no condition of obedience by which he might have obtained a reward for us, and no condition of disobedience for the breach of which we are called to smart. The only other man who is a representative man before God is the second Adam, the man Christ Jesus, the Lord from Heaven! Brothers and Sisters, we mournfully call Adam father, for we are cast out of Eden by him—and we till the ground with the sweat of our face—in sorrow did our mothers bring us forth, and to the grave in sorrow must we go.

But we who have believed in Jesus call another man Father, namely, the Lord Jesus! And we speak this not sorrowfully but joyfully, for He has opened the gates of a better Paradise. He has taken away the sweat of toil from our faces spiritually, for we who have believed do “enter into rest.” He has borne Himself the pangs which were brought upon us by sin. He took our sicknesses and bore our sorrows, while death itself, the heaviest affliction, He has overcome, so that he that lives and believe in Him shall never die, but pass out of this world into the life celestial!

The grand question for us is this, Are we still under the Old Covenant of works? If so, we have Adam as our father, and under that Adam we died. But are we under the Covenant of Grace? If so, we have Christ as our Father, and in Christ shall we be made alive! Generation makes us the sons of Adam. Regeneration acknowledges us as the sons of Christ. In our first birth we come under the fatherhood of the fallen one. In our second birth we enter into the fatherhood of the innocent and perfect One. In our first fatherhood we wear the image of the earthy. In the second we receive the image of the heavenly.

Through our relation to Adam we become corrupt and weak, and the body is put into the grave in dishonor, in corruption, in weakness, in shame. But when we come under the dominion of the second Adam we receive strength, and quickening, and inward spiritual life—and therefore our body rises again like seed sown which rises to a glorious harvest in the image of the heavenly—with honor, and power, and happiness, and eternal life! In this sense, then, Christ is called Father, and inasmuch as the Covenant of Grace is older than the Covenant of Works, Christ is, while Adam is not, “the Everlasting Father.” And inasmuch as the Covenant of Works, as far as we are concerned, passes away, being fulfilled in Jesus, and the Covenant of Grace never passes but abides forever, Christ, as the Head of the New Covenant, the federal representative of the great economy of Grace, is “the Everlasting Father.”…

…We weigh the words, “EVERLASTING FATHER.” I have already explained what this means. Christ is called, “the Everlasting Father” because He does not, Himself, as a Father, die or vacate His office. He is still the Federal Head and Father of His people. He is still the Founder of Gospel Truth and of the Christian system—not allowing archbishops and popes to be His vicars and to take His place. He is still the true Life-Giver from whose wounds and by whose death we are quickened. He reigns, even now, as the patriarchal King. He is still the loving family Head. And so, in every sense, He lives as Father.

But here is a sweet thought. He neither Himself dies, nor becomes childless! He does not lose His children! If His Church could perish He would not be a Father. A Father without a son? And this is the best of all, that He is “an Everlasting Father” to all those to whom He is a Father at all. If you have entered into this relationship so as to be in union with Christ, and to be covered with the hem of His garment, you are His child and you shall forever be! There is no unfathering Christ, and there is no  unchilding us! He is everlastingly a Father to those who trust in Him, and He never does, at any one moment, cease to be Father to any one of these.

This morning you may have come here in trouble, but Christ is still your Father. This day you may be much depressed in spirit and full of doubts and fears. A true father never ceases, if he is a father, to exercise his kindness to a child. Nor does Jesus cease to love and pity you. He will help you. Go to Him, and you shall find that loving Friend to be as tender as in the days of His flesh. He is the Author of an eternal system. As I glanced at the words ,“Everlasting Father,” and thought of Him as the Founder of an ever-living system, I said to myself, “Ah then, the Christian religion will never die out!” It is not possible that the Truth as it is in Jesus should ever be put away if He is “the Everlasting Father”!…

…“The Everlasting Father,” last of all, because He is the Father, in all His people, of eternal life. Adam, you are a father, but where are your sons? If you could return to earth, O Mother Eve, where would you find your children? I think I see her as she paces round the earth and finds nothing but little grassy mounds, heaps of turf, and sometimes a valley sodden blood-red where her children have been slain in battle. I hear her weeping for her children. She will not be comforted because they are not!

But hush, Mother Eve, what life did you give them? What life was that which Father Adam conferred upon your sons and daughters? Why, only life terrestrial, a bubble life that melted and disappeared! But Jesus, as He comes again, will find none of His children dead! None of His sons and daughters lost! Because He lives, they live also, for He is the Everlasting Father and makes those to have everlasting life who live and breathe through Him. Thrice happy they who have an interest in the truth of our text!

Now, dear Hearers, may I ask you whether Christ is Everlasting Father to you? There are other fathers. The Jew said, “We have Abraham as our father,” and to this day certain divines teach that we have covenant rights because of our earthly fathers. They believe in the Abrahamic Covenant much after the manner of the Jews. “We have Abraham as our father”—therefore we have a right to baptism. Therefore we are church members—“born into the church.” Yes, I have heard it said, “born into the church.”

Let no man deceive you! This is not Christ’s teaching! “You must be born-again.” If not, though your mother were a saint in Heaven, and your father an undoubted Apostle of God, you should derive no advantage but a world of solemn responsibility from the fact—unless you are yourself born-again!…

…Adam was driven out of Paradise, and you will never be admitted there! Adam lost all his hopes and you will lose yours. On the ground of the Law shall no flesh living be justified! Alas, I fear that many here have another father. How does Christ put it? “You are of your father, the devil,” says He, “for his works you do.” Not works merely of open sin in the form of adultery, uncleanness, theft, and such like, but opposition to Christ is peculiarly a work of the devil! And unbelief in Christ is the devil’s masterpiece! If you do not, then, trust the Lord Jesus, do not say tonight when you kneel at the bedside, “Our Father, which are in Heaven,” for your father is not in Heaven—your father is in Hell!

Go to the blood of Jesus and ask that you may be cleansed from all iniquity, and then may you say through the Everlasting Father, “O God, You have made me Your child, and I love and bless Your name.” May God be pleased to give you all His blessing for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

C. H. Spurgeon, Sermon #724, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit

 

His Name – “The Mighty God”

Posted: Sunday, December 24, 2017 in Scripture, Seasonal, Sermons, Spurgeon

Day 3 of our Christmas meditations with Spurgeon:

CHRIST HAS PROVED HIMSELF TO US TO BE “THE MIGHTY God.” And here Beloved, without controversy, great is the mystery of Godliness, for the passage from which
the text is taken says, “Unto us a Child is born.” A child! What can that do? A child totters in its walk, it trembles in its steps—and it is a child newly born. Born!—an infant hanging on its mother’s breast, an infant deriving its nourishment from a woman? What? Can that work wonders? Yes, said the Prophet, “Unto us a Child is born.”

But then it is added, “Unto us a Son is given.” Christ was not only born, but given. As Man He is a Child born, as God He is the Son given. He emotes down from on high—He is given by God to become our Redeemer. But here behold the wonder! His name is named! This child’s name “shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God.” Is this child, then, to us the mighty God? If so, O Brethren, without controversy,  great is the mystery of Godliness, indeed! And yet, just let us look, look through the history of the Church and discover whether we have not ample evidence to substantiate it. This Child born, this Son given, came into the world to enter into the battle against sin. For thirty years and upwards He had to struggle and wrestle against temptations more numerous and more terrible than man had ever known before. Adam fell when but a woman tempted him. Eve fell when but a serpent offered fruit to her—but Christ—the second Adam, stood invulnerable against all the shafts of Satan though tempted He was in all points, like as we are.

Not one arrow out of the quiver of Hell was spared—the whole were shot against Him. Every arrow was aimed against Him with all the might of Satan’s army and that is not little! And yet, without sin or taint of sin, more than conqueror He stood. Foot to foot with Satan, in the solitude of the wilderness—hand to hand with him on the top of the pinnacle of the temple—side by side with him in the midst of a busy crowd—yet ever more than conqueror. He gave him battle wherever the adversary willed to meet Him and at last, when Satan gathered up all his might and seized the Savior in the garden of Gethsemane and crushed him till He sweat as it were, great drops of blood—then when the Savior said, “Nevertheless, not as I will but as You will”—the tempter was repulsed. “Go! Go!” Christ seemed to say. And away the tempter fled, nor dare return again. Christ, in all His conquests over sin, seems to me to have established His Godhead. I never heard of any other creature that could endure such temptation as this.

Look at the angels in Heaven. How temptation entered there I know not, but this I know, that Satan, the great archangel, sinned and I know that he became the tempter to the rest of his companions and drew with him a third part of the stars of Heaven. Angels were but little tempted—some of them not tempted at all—and yet they fell. And then look at man—slight was his temptation—yet he fell. It is not in a creature to stand against temptation. He will yield, if the temptation is strong enough. But Christ stood and it seems to me, that in His standing He proved Himself to have the most radiant purity, the immaculate holiness of Him before whom angels
veil their faces and cry—

“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth.”

But these proofs might appear insufficient if He did not accomplish more than this. We know also that Christ proved Himself to be the “mighty God” from the fact that at last all the sins of all His people were gathered upon His shoulders and, “He bare them in His own body on the tree.” The heart of Christ became like a reservoir in the midst of mountains. All the tributary streams of iniquity and every drop of the sins of His people, ran down and gathered into one vast lake, deep as Hell and shoreless as eternity. All these met, as it were, in Christ’s heart and yet He endured them all. With many a sign of human weakness, but with convincing signs of Divine Omnipotence, He took all our griefs and carried all our sorrows. The Divinity within strengthened His Manhood and though wave after wave rolled over His head, till He sank in deep mire where there was no standing and all God’s waves and His billows had gone over Him—yet did He lift up His head and more than a conqueror, at  length, He put the sins of His people to a public execution. They are dead. They have ceased to be. And, if they are sought for, they shall not be found any more. Certainly if this is true, He is “the mighty God,” indeed.

But He did more than this, He descended into the grave and there He slept, fast fettered with the cold chains of death. But the appointed hour arrived—the sunlight of the third day gave the warning and He snapped the bands of death as if they were but thread and came forth to life as “the Lord of life and glory.” His flesh did not see corruption, for He was not able to be held by the bands of death. And who shall be the death of death, the plague of the grave, the destroyer of destruction, but God? Who but immortal life, who but the self-existent, shall trample out the fires of Hell? Who, but He whose Being is eternal, without beginning and without end, shall burst the shackles of the grave? He proved Himself, then, when He led captivity captive and crushed Death and ground his iron limbs to powder—He proved Himself, then to be the mighty God!

Oh, my Soul, you can say that He has proved Himself in your heart to be a mighty God. Sins many has He forgiven you and relieved your conscience of the keen sense of guilt. Griefs innumerable has He assuaged. Temptations insurmountable has He overcome. Virtues once impossible has He implanted, grace in its fullness has He promised and in its measure He has given. My soul bears record that what has been done for me could never have been done by a mere man. And you would rise from your seats, I am sure, if it were needful, and say, “Yes, He that has loved me, washed me from my sins and made me what I am, must be God, none but God could do what He has done—could bear so patiently—could bless so lavishly, forgive so freely, enrich so infinitely. He is, He must be—we will crown Him such—“The mighty God.”

C. H. Spurgeon, Sermon #258, The New Park Street Pulpit

His Name – “Counselor”

Posted: Saturday, December 23, 2017 in Scripture, Seasonal, Sermons, Spurgeon

Day 2 of our Christmas meditations with Spurgeon:

This morning we take the second word, “Counselor.” I need not repeat the remark that, of course, these titles belong only to the Lord Jesus Christ and that we cannot understand the passage except by referring it to Messiah—the Prince. It was by a counselor that this world was ruined. Did not Satan mask himself in the serpent and counsel the woman with exceeding craftiness? Did not he convince her that she  should take unto herself of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the hope that she would be as God? Was it not that evil counsel which provoked our mother to rebel against her Maker and did it not as the effect of sin bring death into this world with all its train of woe?

Ah, Beloved, it was meet that the world should have a Counselor to restore it—if it had a counselor to destroy it. It was by counsel that it fell and certainly without counsel it never could have arisen. But mark the difficulties that surrounded such a Counselor. ‘Tis easy to counsel mischief. But how difficult to counsel wisely! To cast down is easy, but to build up how difficult! To confuse this world and bring upon it all its train of ills was an easy thing. A woman plucked the fruit and it was done. But
to restore order to this confusion, to sweep away the evils which brooded over this fair earth—this was work. indeed! And “Wonderful” was that Christ who came forward to attempt the work and who in the plentitude of His wisdom has certainly accomplished it to His own honor and glory and to our comfort and safety.

We shall now enter upon the discussion of this title which is given to Christ—a title peculiar to our Redeemer. And you will see why it should be given to Him and why there was a necessity for such a Counselor…

Somehow or other, Brethren, it is not good for man to be alone. A lonely man must be, I think, a miserable man. And a man without a counselor, I think, must of  necessity go wrong. “Where there is no counselor,” says Solomon, “The people fall.” I think most persons will find it so. A man says, “Well, I’ll have my own way and I will ask nobody.” Have it, Sir—have it—and you will find that in having your own way you have probably had the worst way you could.

We all feel our need at times of a counselor. David was a man after God’s own heart and dealt much with his God. But he had his Ahithophel with whom he took sweet counsel and they walked to the house of God in company. Kings must have some advisers. Woe unto the man that has got a bad counselor. Rehoboam took counsel of the young men and not of the old men and they counseled him so that he lost ten-twelfths of his empire. We know many who counsel at the hands of foolish charms instead of going to Christ. They shall have to learn that there is but one Christ who is
to be trusted. And that however necessary a counselor may be, yet none other shall be found to fulfill the necessity but Jesus Christ the Counselor.

Let me make a remark or two with regard to this Counselor, Jesus Christ. And, first, Christ is a necessary Counselor. So sure as we do anything without asking counsel of God we fall into trouble. Israel made a league with Gibeon and it is said they took of their victuals and they asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord. And they found out that the Gibeonites had deceived them. If they had asked counsel first no cunning deception could have imposed on them in the matter. Saul, the son of Kish, died before the Lord upon the mountains of Gilboa and in the book of Chronicles
it is written, “he died because he asked not counsel of God, but sought unto the wizards.”

Joshua, the great commander, when he was appointed to succeed Moses was not left to go alone, but it is written, “And Eliezer the priest shall be his counselor and he shall ask counsel of the Lord for him.” And all the great men of olden times, when they were about to do an action, paused and they said to the priest, “Bring here the ephod,” and he put on the Urim and the Thummim and appealed to God and the answer came and sound advice was vouchsafed. You and I will have to learn how necessary it is always to seek advice of God.

Did you ever seek God’s advice on your knees about a difficulty and then go amiss? Brethren, I can testify for my God that when I have submitted my will to His directing Spirit I have always had reason to thank Him for His wise counsel. But when I have asked Him, having already made up my own mind and had my own way—just like the Israelites with the quails of Heaven—while the meat was yet in their mouth the wrath of God came upon them. Let us take heed always that we never go before the cloud. He that goes before the cloud goes a fool’s errand and will be glad to get back. An old Puritan used to say, “He that carves for himself will cut his fingers. Leave God to carve for you in Providence and all shall be well. Seek God’s guidance and nothing can go amiss.” It is wise counsel.

In the next place, Christ’s counsel is faithful counsel. When Ahithophel left David it proved that he was not faithful. And when Hushed went to Absalom and counseled him, he counseled him craftily, so that the good counsel of Ahithophel was brought to nothing. Ah, how often do our friends counsel us craftily! We have known them do so. They have looked first to their own advantage and then they have said, “If I can get him to do such-and-such it will be the best for me.” That was not the question we asked them. It was what would be best for ourselves. But we may trust
Christ—that in His advice to us there never will be any self-interest. He will be quite certain to advise us with the most disinterested motives so that the good shall be to us and the profit to ourselves.

Again—Christ’s counsel is hearty counsel. I hate to go to a lawyer above all people. The worst kind of conversation is, I think, conversation with a lawyer. There is your case! Dear me, what an interest you feel in it! You spread it out before him and he says, “There is a word upon the second page not quite correct.” You look at it and you say, “Ah, that is totally unimportant. That does not signify anything.” He turns to another clause and he says, “Ah, there is a good deal here!” “My dear Fellow,” you say, “I do not care about those petty clauses, whether it says lands, properties, or inheritance—what I want you to do is to set this difficulty right in point of law.” “Be patient,” he says. You must go through a great many consultations before he will come to the point and all the while your poor heart is boiling over because you feel such an interest in the main point.

But he is as cool as possible. You think you are asking counsel of a block of marble. No doubt his advice will come out all right at last and it is pretty certain it will be good for you. But it is not hearty. He does not enter into the sympathies of the matter with you. What is it to him whether you succeed or not—whether the object of your heart shall be accomplished or not? It is but a professional interest he takes. Now, Solomon says, “As ointment for perfume, so is hearty counsel.” When a man throws
his own soul into your case he says, “My dear Friend, I’ll do anything I can to help you, let me look at it.” And he takes as deep an interest in it as you do yourself. “If I were in your position,” he says, “I should do such-and-such. By-the-by, there is a word wrong there.” Perhaps he tells you so, but he only tells you because he is anxious to have it all right. And you can see that his drift is always towards the same end you are seeking and that he is only anxious for your good. Oh, for a counselor that could tie your heart into unison with his own! Now Christ is such a Counselor
as that. He is a hearty Counselor. His interests and your interests are bound up together and He is hearty with you.

But there is another kind of counsel still. David says of one, who afterwards became his enemy, “We took sweet counsel together.” Christian, do you know what sweet counsel is? You have gone to your Master in the day of trouble and in the secret of your chamber you have poured out your heart before Him. You have laid your case before Him with all its difficulties—as Hezekiah did Rabshakeh’s letter and you have felt that though Christ were not there in flesh and blood—yet He was there in spirit and He counseled you. You felt that His was counsel that came from the very heart. But He was something better than that. There was such a sweetness coming with His counsel, such a radiance of love, such a fullness of fellowship, that you said, “Oh that I were in trouble every day, if I might have such sweet counsel as this!”

Christ is the Counselor whom I desire to consult every hour and I would that I could sit in His secret chamber all day and all night long. To counsel with Him is to have sweet counsel, hearty counsel and wise counsel all at the same time! Why, you may have a friend that talks very sweetly with you and you will say, “Well, he is a kind, good soul, but I really cannot trust his judgment.” You have another friend, who has a good deal of judgment and yet you say of him, “Certainly he is a man of prudence above a great many, but I cannot find out his sympathy. I never get at his heart—if he were ever so rough and untutored, I would sooner have his heart without his prudence, than his prudence without his heart.” But we go to Christ and we get wisdom. We get love, we get sympathy. We get everything that can possibly be wanted in a Counselor.

C. H. Spurgeon, Sermon #215, The New Park Street Pulpit

His Name – “Wonderful”

Posted: Friday, December 22, 2017 in Scripture, Seasonal, Spurgeon

For the next few days leading up to Christmas, I will be posting an excerpt from Spurgeon’s sermons on Isaiah 9:6: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He had five sermons on the text, four that dealt with the characteristic names given to Christ by God the Father. I pray that you will be drawn to Christ as you read and meditate on these words over the next few days. They would also be good to read aloud as you gather around the tree or the dinner table with family and friends.

ONE evening last week I stood by the seashore when a storm was raging. The voice of the Lord was upon the waters. And who was I that I should tarry within doors when my Master’s voice was heard sounding along the water? I rose and stood to behold the flash of His lightning and listen to the glory of His thunder. The sea and the thunder were contesting with one another. The sea with infinite clamor striving to hush the deep-throated thunder so that his voice should not be heard. Yet over and above the roar of the billows might be heard that voice of God as He spoke with flames of fire and divided the way for the waters. It was a dark night and the sky was covered with thick clouds and scarcely a star could be seen through the rifts of the tempest. But at one particular time I noticed far away on the horizon as if miles across the water, a bright shining, like gold.

It was the moon hidden behind the clouds so that she could not shine upon us. But she was able to send her rays down upon the waters, far away, where no cloud happened to intervene. I thought as I read this chapter last evening that the Prophet seemed to have stood in a like position when He wrote the words of my text. All around him were clouds of darkness. He heard Prophetic thunders roaring and he saw flashes of the lightning of Divine vengeance. He saw clouds and darkness for many a league through history. But he saw far away a bright spot—one place where the clear shining came down from Heaven. And he sat down and he penned these words—“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shined.”

And though he looked through whole leagues of space where he saw the battle of the warrior “with confused noise and garments rolled in blood,” yet he fixed his eye upon one bright spot in the future and he declared that there he saw hope of peace, prosperity and blessedness. For said he, “Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful.”

My dear Friends, we live today upon the verge of that bright spot. The world has been passing through these clouds of darkness and the light is gleaming on us now like the first rays of morning. We are coming to a brighter day and “at evening time it shall be light.” The clouds and darkness shall be rolled up as a mantle that God needs no longer and He shall appear in His glory and His people shall rejoice with Him. But you must mark that all the brightness was the result of this Child born, this Son given whose name is called Wonderful. And if we can discern any brightness in our own hearts, or in the world’s history, it can come from nowhere else than from the One who is called “Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God.”

The Person spoken of in our text is undoubtedly the Lord Jesus Christ. He is a Child born, with reference to His human nature. He is born of the virgin a child. But He is a Son given, with reference to His Divine Nature, being given as well as born. Of course the Godhead could not be born of woman. That was from everlasting and is to everlasting. As a Child He was born, as a Son He was given. “The government is upon His shoulder and His name shall be called Wonderful.” Beloved, there are a thousand things in this world that are called by names that do not belong to them. But in entering upon my text I must announce at the very beginning that Christ is called Wonderful, because He is.

God the Father never gave His Son a name which He did not deserve. There is no compliment here, no flattery. It is just the simple name that He deserves. They that know Him best will say that the word does not overstrain His merits but rather falls infinitely short of His glorious deserving. His name is called Wonderful. And mark, it does not merely say that God has given Him the name of Wonderful—though that is implied. But “His name shall be called” so. It shall be. It is at this time called Wonderful by all His believing people and it shall be. As long as the moon endures there shall be found men and angels and glorified spirits who shall always call Him by His right name. “His name shall be called Wonderful.”

I find that this name may bear two or three interpretations. The word is sometimes in Scripture translated “marvelous.” Jesus Christ may be called Marvelous. And a learned German interpreter says that, without doubt, the meaning of miraculous is also wrapped up in it. Christ is the Marvel of marvels, the Miracle of miracles. “His name shall be called Miraculous,” for He is more than a man, He is God’s highest miracle. “Great is the mystery of godliness. God was manifest in the flesh.” It may also mean separated, or distinguished. And Jesus Christ may well be called this. For as Saul was distinguished from all men, being head and shoulder taller than they, so is Christ distinguished above all men. He is anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows and in His character and in His acts He is infinitely separated from all comparison with any of the sons of men. “You are fairer than the children of men; grace is poured into Your lips.” He is “the chief among ten thousand and altogether lovely.” “His name shall be called the Separated One,” the Distinguished One, the Noble One, set apart from the common race of mankind.

C.H. Spurgeon, Sermon #214, The New Park Street Pulpit