Tuesday, May 10, 2016

My Year with Spurgeon #18

A String of Pearls
Charles Spurgeon
1 Peter 1:3-5
THE persons whom Peter addressed were in great need of comfort. They were strangers, strangers scattered far from home. They had in consequence to suffer manifold trials and therefore needed plenteous consolations. Such is our position in a spiritual sense. We, too, are strangers and foreigners. We are pilgrims and sojourners below, and our citizenship is in Heaven. We also require the Word of comfort, for while our banishment lasts, we look for tribulations.
The persons whom Peter addressed were God's chosen, "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father," and one sure result of Divine election is the world's enmity. "If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you."
So you too, my Brethren, chosen out from among men, to be the peculiar people of God, must expect to be partakers of the Cross—for the servant is not greater than his Lord. Since they persecuted Him they will also persecute you. Therefore to you, as to those of old by Peter, the Word of consolation is sent this day. The Apostle also addressed the sanctified. Through the Holy Spirit they had been sanctified and set apart. To the "obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus" they had been brought. They were a people who had "purified their souls in obeying the Truth of God through the Spirit."
And rest assured no man can do this without encountering fiery trials. He who swims with the stream shall find all things go easily with him until he reaches the waterfall of destruction. But he who stems the torrent must expect to breast many a raging billow. And therefore to such the strong consolations of the Gospel are necessary. Speak we then this morning to the same characters as those addressed by Peter, even to you who "are not of the world," but "strangers." To you who are "chosen of God," and therefore the object of the enmity of man. To you who maintain the separated life of true holiness, and are therefore opposed by the profane.
You have need of comfort, and in the Word, and by the Holy Spirit, your need is more than met.
I might almost entitle these three verses a New Testament Psalm. They are stanzas of a majestic song. You have here a delightful hymn. It scarcely needs to be turned into verse—it is in itself essential poetry.
To lead the mind to praise God is one of the surest ways of uplifting it from depression.
In these three verses we have a string of pearls, a necklace of diamonds, a cabinet of jewels—no, the comparisons are poor—we have something far better than all the riches of the earth can ever typify. You have here the heritage of the chosen of God. Your heritage, Beloved, your own peculiar portion if you belong to Christ this day.
We shall conduct you through this mine of treasure, and ask you to dwell upon each blessing, that your souls may be comforted, and that you, lifting up your hearts in blessing, and praising the God of all Grace, may forget your cares and sorrows, and find a young Heaven begun below—a Paradise blooming amid the desert. There are seven choice things in the text, a perfect number of perfect things.
First, I see in the text as the source of all the rest, ABUNDANT MERCY. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope." No other attribute could have helped us had Mercy refused. As we are by nature Justice condemns us, Holiness frowns upon us, Power crushes us, Truth confirms the threat of the Law, and Wrath fulfils it. It is from the mercy of our God that all our hopes begin. Mercy is needed for the miserable, and yet more for the sinful. Misery and sin are fully united in the human race, and Mercy, here, performs her noble deeds. My Brethren, God has vouchsafed His mercy to us, and we must thankfully acknowledge that in our case His mercy has been abundant mercy.   
The next great blessing in the text is that OF INCORRUPTIBLE LIFE. Mark that, O Believer. "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to His abundant mercy, has begotten us again unto a lively hope." One of the first displays of Divine mercy which we experience is being begotten again. Our first birth gave us the image of the first Adam—"earthly." Our second birth, and that alone, gives us the image of the second Adam, which is "heavenly." To be begotten once may be a curse—to be begotten again is everlastingly and assuredly a blessing. To be born once may be a subject for eternal bewailing—to be born a second time will be the theme of a joyful and unending song. My Brethren, saints are "begotten again unto a lively hope" in the hour of their regeneration, when they are "born again from above."    
A third blessing strictly connected with this new life, is A LIVELY HOPE. "He has begotten us again unto a lively hope." Could a man live without hope? Men manage to survive the worst condition of distress when they are encouraged by a hope. But is not suicide the natural result of the death of hope? Yes, we must have a hope, and the Christian is not left without one. He has "a lively hope," that is to say, first, he has a hope within him, real, true, and operative. A Christian's hope purifies him, excites him to diligence, makes him seek after that which he expects to obtain.     
We cannot tarry, but must notice, in the fourth place, another delightful possession which ought effectually to chase away from all of us the glooms of this life, and that is A RISEN SAVIOR. "He has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." Our best Friend is not dead! Our great Patron and Helper, our Omnipotent Savior, is not lying in the tomb today. He lives, He ever lives! No sound of greater gladness can be heard in the Christian Church than this—"The Lord is risen, the Lord is risen indeed!" Now, Brethren, observe the connection between a risen Savior and our living hope. Jesus Christ died, not in appearance, but in reality. He rose, not in fantasy and figure, but in reality. Now, note you well the comfort which arises out of this fact, since it proves that we possess a living Advocate, Mediator and High Priest who has passed into the heavens. Moreover, since all Believers, being partakers of the incorruptible life of God are one with Jesus Christ, that which happens to Him virtually happens to them. They died in His death, they live in His life, they reign in His Glory. As in Adam all die who were in Adam, so in Christ shall all be made alive who are in Christ—the two Adams head up their dispensations—whatever happens to either of the Adams, happens to those represented by him. So, then, the resurrection of Jesus is virtually my resurrection.
The fifth is exceedingly rich, but we can only give a word where many sermons would not exhaust—AN INCORRUPTIBLE INHERITANCE—"an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away." God has been pleased in His abundant mercy to prepare for His people an inheritance. He has made them sons, and if children, then heirs. He has given them a new life, and if a new life, then there must be possessions and a place suitable for that new life. A heavenly nature requires a heavenly inheritance, Heaven-born children must have a heavenly portion. Now I shall only ask you to notice that the inheritance which God has prepared for us has a fourfold description appended to it. First, as to its substance—it is "incorruptible." Next, for purity—it is "undefiled." And then it is added for its beauty, "it fades not away." The substance of a thing might endure after its beauty was gone, but in Heaven there shall be no declining in the beauty of anything celestial.
Time fails us, therefore we must mention the sixth blessing at once, it is INVIOLABLE SECURITY. The inheritance is kept for you, and you are kept for the inheritance. Herein is our confidence—our great Captain has walled us around—He has appointed Salvation for walls and bulwarks. We are safe, though all the devils of Hell surround us, for we are garrisoned by Omnipotence. Each Believer is kept by that same power which "bears the earth's huge pillars up," and sustains the arches of Heaven. This keeping, observe, my Brothers and Sisters, for I must leave the point—this keeping is complete and continuous—it will never end until we shall need keeping no longer. We shall be kept "unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
The best I have reserved for the last. Out of the seven treasures of the Christian the last comprehends all, is better than all, though what I have already spoken is everything—it is A BLESSED GOD. We left this to the last, though it comes first—"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." It is joy to have Heaven, it is joy to possess a new life to fit me for Heaven—but the greatest of all is to have my God, my own Savior's God, my Father, my own Savior's Father, to be all my own! God Himself has said, "I will be their God, and they shall be My people." He has not given you earth and Heaven only, though that were much. He has given you the Heaven of Heaven—Himself.   

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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