From Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon:
Salvation is priceless, let it come when it may—but oh! an early salvation has a double value in it.
Remember that the same Christ who tells us to say, “Give us this day our daily bread,” had first given us this petition, “Hallowed be Your name; Your kingdom come; Your will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” Let not your prayers be all concerning your own sins, your own needs, your own imperfections, your own trials—but let them climb the starry ladder, and get up to Christ Himself, and then, as you draw near to the blood-sprinkled mercy-seat, offer this prayer continually, “Lord, extend the kingdom of Your dear Son!” Such a petition, fervently presented, will elevate the spirit of all your devotions. Mind that you prove the sincerity of your prayer by laboring to promote the Lord’s glory.
Your standing is not in yourself—it is in Christ; your acceptance is not in yourself—but in your Lord. You are as much accepted by God today, with all your sinfulness, as you will be when you stand before His throne, free from all corruption.
We see in Simon’s carrying the cross—a picture of the work of the Church throughout all generations; she is the cross-bearer after Jesus. Mark then, Christian, Jesus does not suffer—so as to exclude your suffering. He bears a cross, not that you may escape it—but that you may endure it.
Christ exempts you from sin—but not from sorrow. Remember that, and expect to suffer.
If we empty our hearts of SELF, God will fill them with His love.
Learn in confession to be honest with God. Do not give fair names to foul sins. Call them what you will—they will smell no sweeter. What God sees them to be, that you must labor to feel them to be; and with all openness of heart, acknowledge their real character.
We must sing of the finished work of a precious Savior; and he who knows most of forgiving love—will sing the loudest!
Alive or Dead? (Chapter 5)
He is your best friend who tells you the most truth.
First then, let me tell you what we all are by nature.--We are spiritually dead! “Dead” is a strong word, but it is not my own coining and invention. I did not choose it. The Holy Ghost taught St. Paul to write it down about the Ephesians: “You hath he quickened who were dead.” (Ephesians 2:1.).
The Lord Jesus Christ made use of it in the parable of the prodigal son: “This my son was dead and is alive again.” (Luke 15:24-32.). You will read it also in the first Epistle to Timothy: “She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.” (1 Timothy 5:6,).
“Dead” is an awful idea, and one that man is most unwilling to receive. He does not like to allow the whole extent of his soul’s disease: he shuts his eyes to the real amount of his danger.
What we like in religion is of very little consequence. The only question is, What is written? What saith the Lord? God’s thoughts are not man’s thoughts, and God’s words are not man’s words. God says of every living person who is not a real, thorough, genuine, decided Christian,--be he high or low, rich or poor, old or young,--He is spiritually dead.
But God’s truth must be spoken, and to keep it back does positive harm. Truth must be spoken, however condemning it may be. So long as a man does not serve God with body, soul, and spirit, he is not really alive. So long as he puts the first things last and the last first, buries his talent like an unprofitable servant, and brings the Lord no revenue of honour, so long in God’s sight he is dead.
This is the true explanation of sin not felt,--and sermons not believed,--and good advice not followed,--and the Gospel not embraced,--and the world not forsaken,--and the cross not taken up,--and self-will not mortified,--and evil habits not laid aside,--and the Bible seldom read,--and the knee never bent in prayer. Why is all this on every side. The answer is simple: Men are dead.
Let me tell you, in the second place, what every man needs who would be saved. He must be quickened and made spiritually alive. Life is the mightiest of all possessions. From death to life is the mightiest of all changes. And no change short of this will ever avail to fit man’s soul for heaven.
Grace may be weak, and yet true; life may be feeble, and yet real. But I do confidently affirm we must all go through something of this kind, if ever we mean to be saved. Till this sort of change has taken place, there is no life it. us at all.
Some time or other, between the cradle and the grave, all who would be saved must be made alive.
Let me tell you, in the third place, in what way alone this quickening can be brought about,--by what means a dead soul can be made spiritually alive. We may change our sins, but we cannot change our hearts. We may take up a new way, but not a new nature. We may make considerable reforms and alterations. We may lay aside many outward bad habits, and begin to do many outward duties. But we cannot create a new principle within us. We cannot bring something out of nothing.
Never, never will the Spirit turn away from a soul because of its corruption. He never has done so;--He never will. It is His glory that He has purified the minds of the most impure, and made them temples for His own abode. He may yet take the worst of us, and make him a vessel of grace.
Others may think it enough to mourn over dead bodies. For my part, I think there is far more cause to mourn over dead souls. The children of this world find fault with us sometimes for being so serious and grave. Truly, when I look at the world, I marvel we can ever smile at all.
To every one who is dead in sins I say this day. Why will you die? Are the wages of sin so sweet and good, that you cannot give them up? Is the world so satisfying that you cannot forsake it? Is the service of Satan so pleasant that you and he are never to be parted? Is heaven so poor a thing that it is not worth seeking? Is your soul of so little consequence, that it is not worth a struggle to have it saved?
Believe me, believe me, true repentance is that one step that no man ever repented. Thousands have said at their latter end, they had “served God too little:” no child of Adam ever said, as he left this world, that he had cared for his soul too much.
The way of life is a narrow path, but the footsteps in it are all in one direction: not one child of Adam has ever come back and said it was a delusion. The way of the world is a broad way, but millions on millions have forsaken it, and borne their testimony that it was a way of sorrow and disappointment.
Let your words, and works, and ways, and tempers all tell the same story.
Be an epistle of Christ so clearly written, penned in such large bold characters, that he who runs may read it. Let your Christianity be so unmistakeable, your eye so single, your heart so whole, your walk so straightforward that all who see you may have no doubt whose you are, and whom you serve.
If we really are alive and not dead, let us strive so to carry ourselves that men may know whose we are. While we live, may we live unto the Lord. When we die, may we die the death of the righteous. And when the Lord Jesus comes, may we be found ready, and “not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” (1 John 2:28.)