by Charles Haddon SpurgeonSpurgeon on the Prayer of Jabez - part 3 of 5
Spurgeon on the Prayer of Jabez - part 3 of 5
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) was widely acknowledged as "the prince of preachers"-though he himself only wanted to be a "John Ploughman," keeping his hand to the plow and plowing a straight furrow. The son and grandson of preachers, he was converted at age 16 when admonished to "look to Jesus!" He began preaching at a Baptist chapel in Cambridge the next year, and at 20 he was called to the New Park Street Church in London. In 1861, the Metropolitan Tabernacle, which seated 6,000 persons, was built to accommodate his congregation. His books of sermons and devotions are still very much in demand.
Let us proceed to speak of imaginary blessings. From them may God deliver us. "Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed!" Take the Pharisee. He stood in the Lord's house, and he thought he had the Lord's blessing. It made him very bold and he spoke with unctuous self-complacency, "God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are." He supposed he merited the blessing. He had fasted twice in the week, paid tithes of all that he possessed, even to the odd farthing on the mint, and the extra halfpenny on the cummin he had used. He felt he was just one of the most excellent persons that ever breathed. But he was not blessed indeed. This was all his own overweening conceit. He was a mere windbag, nothing more, and the blessing which he fancied had fallen upon him, had never come. The poor publican whom he thought accursed, went to his home justified rather than he.
Oh, let every one of us here feel the sting of this rebuke, and pray: "Great God, save us from imputing to ourselves a righteousness which we do not possess. Save us from wrapping ourselves up in our own rags, and fancying we have put on the wedding garments. Bless me indeed. Let me have the true righteousness. Let me have the true worthiness which You can accept, even that which is of faith in Jesus Christ."
Another form of this imaginary blessing is found in persons who would scorn to be thought self-righteous. Their delusion, however, is near akin. I hear them singing:
"I do believe, I will believe
That Jesus died for me,
And on His cross He shed His blood,
From sin to set me free."
You believe it, you say. But how do you know? Upon what authority do you make so sure? "Oh, I believe it." Yes, but we must be sure of what we believe. Can you give any spiritual reasons for believing that Christ has set you free from sin? I am afraid that some have a hope without ground, like an anchor without a fluke-nothing to grasp, nothing to lay hold upon. They say they are saved, but they have no reason to warrant their confidence. When the sons of Kohath carried the Ark, and touched it with their hands, they did rightly; but when Uzzah touched it he died. There is a great difference between presumption and full assurance.
Full assurance is reasonable if it is based on solid ground. Presumption takes for granted, and with brazen face claims to own that to which it has no right whatever. Beware, I pray thee, of presuming that you are saved. If with your heart you do trust in Jesus, then are you saved; but if you merely say, "I trust in Jesus," it does not save you. If your heart is renewed, if you hate the things that you once loved, and love the things that you formerly hated; if you have really repented; if there be a thorough change of mind in you; if you are born again-then you have reason to rejoice. But if there be no vital change, no inward godliness; if there be no love to God, no prayer, no work of the Holy Spirit, then your saying, "I am saved," is only your own assertion, which will not deliver you. Our prayer ought to be, "Oh that You would bless me indeed, with real faith, with real salvation, with the trust in Jesus that is the essential of faith; not with the conceit that begets deceit. God preserve us from imaginary blessings!"
Nothing will stand the trial but this: "Do you abjure all confidence in everything but the finished work of Jesus, and do you come to Christ to be reconciled in Him to God?" If you do not, your dreams and visions and fancies are only dreams, and visions, and fancies, and will not serve your turn when most you need them.
Adapted from Sermon No. 994, Volume 17, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, delivered in 1871
To be continued