Sermon 644. God'S Witnesses
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, AUGUST 13, 1865,
BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"You are My witnesses, says the Lord, and My Servant, whom I have chosen."
You, most of you, know that I am incessantly engaged every hour in the week either in preaching the Gospel or in endeavoringto discharge the multifarious duties connected with this immense Church. Now I always look upon my Saturdays as being consecrated,as far as possible, to meditation andstudy, that I may find something to set before you on the Lord's Day. But, unfortunately for me, I was served with a subpoenato attend the courts at Croydon and was compelled to spend the whole of yesterday sitting in a hot and crowded court.
There is a vast difference between the Throne of Grace and the bench of justice, and between communion with Heaven and conversewith lawyers and witnesses! I tried to think, while sitting there, but I found the business so distracting that I went homewith a headache and thought I should scarcelybe able to preach to the assembled crowds on the morrow. It struck me, however, that if I could not preach about anythingelse, I must just try to get something out of the occupation of yesterday.
Perhaps we may glean some profitable ears of corn among such unlikely stubble. Let me draw your attention to the text andcompel my occupation of yesterday to yield a few illustrations to set forth its meaning. As the text stands, in its connection,we have before us a great assembly. All thenations of the earth are summoned to bring forth their rival gods, and the question to be decided is this-which one of themis the living and true God? The mode of test is this most admirable one-which out of these gods has foretold the future? Amongall these votariesof various idols, which of them can claim that their deity possesses the gift of foresight?
Let all the venerated blocks of wood and stone bring forward their witnesses! They can tell of Sibylline oracles, of strangemysterious mutterings which contained doubtful declarations hidden under ambiguous terms. The Lord demands that there shallbe presented before this court plain prophecies,distinct declarations of events which could not have been foreseen by human discernment. In this respect, the gods of theheathen failed. But when Jehovah summoned His people Israel and put them into the witness box, and said to them, "You areMy witnesses," they were abledistinctly to prove that all the great events of their national history had been foretold by their God and that each hadoccurred precisely as foretold.
Not one of His prophecies had failed! Not one word had dropped to the ground. Surely the Jew might, with great satisfaction,recur to that ancient prophecy which is recorded in the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Genesis. We read in the twelfth verseof that chapter that "when the sun was goingdown, a deep sleep fell upon Abram. And, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. And He said unto Abram, know ofa surety that your seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs and shall serve them. And they shall afflict themfour hundred years. And also thatnation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And you shall go toyour fathers in peace. You shall be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come here again: forthe iniquity of the Amorites is not yetfull."
Every descendant of the Patriarch could point to this as a Revelation given to his great ancestor at a time when such eventsseemed improbable and yet it was literally fulfilled. The people went down into Egypt. They stayed there till the four hundredyears of this prophecy had been fulfilled. Atthat very hour they came out of Egypt. With a strong hand and with an outstretched arm did God bring them out! He judgedEgypt with many plagues and with a terrible overthrow in the Red Sea-but Israel came out with great substance, for we findthat they had jewels of silverand jewels of gold. After forty years they found the sin of the original inhabitants of Canaan was full and that the settime was come for their slaughter and destruction.
All this was fulfilled verbatim and in the eighteenth and following verses there is a continuation of the prophecy- and this,too, was literally accomplished. "Unto your seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, theriver Euphrates: the Kenites and theKenizzites and the Kadmonites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Rephaims and the Amorites and the Canaanites andthe Girgashites and the Jebusites." And all the inhabitants of the land were to be destroyed and Canaan was to be the possessionof the descendants of thesolitary man who, as a stranger and a pilgrim with his God, trod its acres without owning a foot of the soil!
This early prophecy was so exactly accomplished that to Israel it was conclusive proof that Jehovah was truly the Lord. Moreover,the Jews could say that in every national event they had always been forewarned. Was David appointed that his seed shouldrule over Israel? Jacob long before had seenthe scepter in the tribe of Judah. Was the kingdom to be divided at the latter end of the reign of Solomon? Ahijah rendsthe garment of Jeroboam and foretells that he shall take ten pieces to make another kingdom for himself.
Was the race of Jeroboam to be put away? Remember the terrible words, "There shall not be left so much as a dog of the houseof Jeroboam, son of Nebat." Were they to be molested for their sins by the neighboring nations? God always sent to them awarning Prophet to bid them repent, lest suddenlythey should feel the smarting rod. Now, what the Jew could say in Isaiah's day, we can say yet more fully! My Brethren,it is our happiness to live in an age when expeditions to eastern lands are proving every letter of prophecy!
Go to Nineveh and mark her heap and her solitary river flowing silently to the sea. Did it ever seem likely that Tigris andEuphrates, where the Chaldeans made their boast in their ships, upon whose banks stood the two greatest cities of antiquity,should become the haunt of dragons and owls? Go toNineveh and learn what God can do and how He can foresee the desolation of His foes. Cast your eyes to the beach of Tyrewhere the fisherman spreads his net and there is not a ship to be seen-but where once the commerce of half the world floatedin its glory! Tread the silentand deserted halls of Petra and shiver as you read the words-"The pride of your heart has deceived you, you that dwell inthe clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high. That says in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? Though youexalt yourself as the eagle andthough you set your nest among the stars, there will I bring you down, says the LORD."
Where is Moab? What ails you, O Ammon? Where are those boastful monarchs which said, "We are rulers forever: we shall situpon our thrones and know no sorrow"? Jehovah has spoken and has done it-He is God-He only is the God of the whole earth!
This is the scene presented before us in the text-the whole assembled nations and the Jewish people brought together to provethat in their Sacred Books they had distinct notification of future events-proving that God is God- since no heathen idolshave been able, after this sort,to foresee or to foretell. We will depart from the precise meaning of the text and take it in a very truthful sense, thoughnot in the one originally intended. Believers in Christ Jesus, you take the place of Israel of old and you are, every oneof you, God's witnesses this day!
A great controversy is going on between God and the world. The world puts its witnesses forward to speak in its name. Andyou, the chosen ones of the Most High, are ordained to this office to be testifiers and witness-bearers for your God and forHis Truth. "You are My witnesses, says the Lord, andMy Servant, whom I have chosen."
I. We will advance at once to our subject by mentioning some of THE QUESTIONS UPON WHICH CHRISTIANS ARE CALLED TO GIVE EVIDENCEIN FAVOR OF THEIR GOD. These questions are the most weighty which can be discussed. One of the first is this-is there sucha thing nowadays as a distinctinterposition of God on behalf of man in answer to believing prayer? The world ridicules the idea. The horse laugh is heardthe moment you talk about the efficacy of prayer and faith.
"Why," some say, "the wind that drives the pirate on the rock will also cause the shipwreck of a vessel laden with ministersof the Gospel. Providence is alike severe in its severities and alike bountiful in its bounties. The rain falls upon the fieldof the wicked as well as upon the field of therighteous! God has gone away from earth and left it to manage it-self-has wound it up like a clock and set it going andnow He does not interfere, but lets each wheel act upon the other wheel and the whole machinery go on without any interpositionfrom His hand." That is theworld's theory.
Now, in opposition to this, we hold that, albeit the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, yet still in thosevery events there are distinct differences in God's dealings. But that is not precisely the question. The question is whetheror not God does answer prayer and come in to theassistance and deliverance of those who have faith in Him. We declare that He does do so. I think, dear Friends, if I wereto call some of you into the witness box, you would give very clear and distinct proofs of this.
Suppose I call Mr. George Muller, of Bristol? He would say, "Look at those three orphan houses, containing no less than onethousand one hundred and fifty orphan children who are entirely supported by funds sent to me in answer to prayer. Look,"says he, "at this fact-that when the water wasdried up in Bristol and the water works were not able to serve sufficient water to the people-I, with my more than a thousandchildren dependent upon me, never asked any man for a drop of water. But I went on my knees before God and a farmer who wasneither directly norindirectly asked by me, called at my door the next hour and offered to bring us water! And when he ceased because his supplieswere dried up, instead of telling anybody, I went to my God and told Him all about it and another friend offered to let mefetch water from his brook."
He will point you to his report in connection with the orphan houses these many years, and say to you, "Here it is- I solemnlyassert that I never told any man one of my needs but went straight away to call unto my God-and while I have been calling,He has answered me! And while I haveyet been speaking, He has sent the reply." And George Muller is no solitary specimen! We can, each of us, tell of like eventsin our own history. Indeed, it were hard for me to find in my life a case in which I have asked and not received. I shouldfind it difficult to discover aseason in which I have cried unto God and not received deliverance during the whole run and tenor of my life.
I admit it to be shorter than that of some of you, but yet that short life suffices for me to say that in hundreds of instancesI have had as distinct answers to prayer as if God had thrust His right hand through the blue sky and given right into mylap the bounty which I had sought of Him. Now weare not insane! We are not so wonderfully enthusiastic-we wish we were a little more so! Many of us are as soldiers' souls,as common sense acting men as any that are to be found! There are Brethren here who exhibit a shrewdness in business whichwould screen them from beingcalled fools by worldlings themselves, and yet our unanimous witness as Christians is this-we have sought God and He hasheard us-and though we have been brought very low, if we have been enabled to cry out to God, even from the very depths Hehas delivered us in ourhour of need!
Upon this point the Christian should take care that he bears very clear testimony, for he certainly may do it without anydifficulty. There is a question, also, as to the ultimate results of present affliction. The world holds, as a theory, thatif there is a God, He is very often exceedinglyunkind. That He is severe to the best of men and that some men are the victims of a cruel fate. That they are greatly tobe pitied because they have to suffer much without compensating profit.
Now, the Christian holds, first of all, that the woes of sinners are punishments and are very different from the chasteningsorrows of Believers. Of these last he believes that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them thatare called according to His purpose. He believes, asa matter of faith, that he gains by his losses! That he gets health by his sicknesses! And that he makes progress towardsHeaven by that which threatens to drive him back. This, I say, is the doctrine with which he begins!
Now what is your testimony, Brother Christian, with regard to this as a matter of experience? How have you found it? I mustspeak for myself and say, "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now have I kept Your Word." "It is good for me that Ihave been afflicted." All of you who have soundedthe deeps of soul-trouble and have enjoyed the Presence of Jesus can distinctly testify the same! You have found that afflictionworks the comfortable fruits of righteousness, though now, for a season, it is anything but joyous. You have, some of you,passed through very severedifficulties and trials-I have been the sympathizing witness of the griefs of some of you-but I have heard you say and sayit confidently-not in moments of religious excitement, but in times of sober quiet-that you would not have had it otherwisefor all theworld!
I have heard you say and I know you are ready to repeat it in any company and in any place, that if you could have alteredyour past life, especially as to its trials and its difficulties, you would not now in looking back upon it have had it alteredfor a thousand worlds. Oh no, the rough was aright way. The tempest purged the pestilential air. The earthquake shook down houses of evil. The fire consumed heaps ofwood, hay and stubble. In this thing may I beg you always clearly and distinctly to state the truth as witnesses for yourGod.
A third point very much in dispute is as to the joyfulness of a true Believer's life. The world's theory is that we are avery miserable set of people who take to religion from the necessity of a naturally melancholy disposition. "The gloomy tenetsof Calvin," as they are generally called. "Thehorrid dogmas of Calvin," are supposed to possess congenial charms for minds gloomy and morose. Now what is your testimony,Christian, especially you Christians who have learned to see in "the horrid dogmas of Calvin" the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Well, we can say if we are melancholy, joyous people must be very joyful, indeed. We sometimes think we have run up as highon the gamut of joy as any human hearts can go and if we are melancholy, what a deal of joy there must be in the world! Whathappy people other people must be if we aremelancholy! I know that many of God's saints can say that when they can lay hold upon the great doctrines of Sovereign Gracethey are as happy as the day is long in midsummer- with all their trials they can rejoice in the Lord and again and againrejoice!
I saw a Baptist minister this week who was "passing rich on forty pounds a year" owing no man anything. I told him I hopedhe would not die with the secret, for I should like to learn the art of keeping house on forty pounds a year. But he saidto me, when I smiled at his salary, "You see beforeyou the happiest man out of Heaven." And I know I did, too, for his face showed that he meant what he said. The happiestman out of Heaven-a poor Baptist minister on forty pounds a year!
Yes and there are some here who can declare though they are nothing but poor work girls, and have to stitch, stitch, stitchfar into the night to get their living, yet when they think that Christ is their own Beloved, they are the happiest girlsout of Heaven! Some of you have not much to sparewhen the rent is paid and food is bought, yet with all that you want no man's pity for you are rich to all the intents ofbliss! When Mr. Hone, who wrote the "Everyday Book," was traveling through Wales-he was an infidel-he stopped at a cottageto ask for a drink ofwater. A little girl said, "Oh yes, Sir, I have no doubt mother will give you some milk. Come in."
He went in and sat down. The little girl was reading her Bible. Mr. Hone said, "Well, my little girl, you are getting yourtask?" "No, Sir, I am not," she replied, "I am reading the Bible." "Yes," said he, "you are getting your task out of the Bible?""Oh, no," she replied, "it is no task to readthe Bible, I love the Bible." "And why do you love the Bible?" said he. Her simple, childlike answer was, "I thought everybodyloved the Bible." She thought full sure it was the greatest treat in all the world and fancied that everybody else was delightedto read God's Word! Mr.Hone was so touched with the sincerity of that expression that he read the Bible himself, and instead of being an opponentto the things of God, came to be a friend of Divine Truth!
Let us, in the same way, show to the people of the world who think our religion to be slavery, that it is a delight and ajoy-that it is no more a burden to us to pray than it is for fish to swim. That it is no more bondage for us to serve Godthan for a bird to fly. True godliness is ournatural element now that we have a new nature given us by the Spirit of God. On that matter be you witnesses for God!
Another point in dispute refers to the moral tendencies of Christianity and especially of that form of Christianity whichit is our delight to preach. There is a growing belief, nowadays, that the preaching of the doctrines of Free Grace has atendency to make men think little of sin. And thatespecially the free invitations of the Gospel to the very vilest of sinners and the declaration that who believes in Jesusshall be saved, has a tendency to make men indulge in the worst of crimes. I read a paper the other day in which a publicwriter had the impudence to lay thecrimes of Southey and Pritchard and such men at the door of our holy religion.
I called the writer a villain and he deserves no better name. He must be a villain to dare to lay at the door of Christ'sholy Gospel the infamy of murder! He says that while we continue to preach that God forgives sin so easily, men will sin moreand more. Now our testimony is, and we speakpositively here, that there can be nothing which exerts so sanctifying an influence upon the heart of man as the doctrineof the love of God in Christ Jesus. And if you seek proofs, look around. If it were right for you to speak, my Brothers andSisters, there are certain happy onesamong us who could testify this day, "We are living manifestations that the Grace of God can turn the drunkard into a soberman and make the harlot a Christian woman-and bring up the depraved and the profane to seek after purity and holiness."
Why, we are each of us, in our degree, witnesses to that! When do you hate sin most? Why, at the foot of the Cross! And whendo you love holiness best? Is it not when you feel that God has blotted out your sins like a cloud? No truth can so subduethe human mind as the majesty of infinite love. Itis just that which makes a man hate himself for having offended against so tender and gracious a God. Prove by the integrityand uprightness of your characters that the Gospel has had a mighty power on you to make you honest, benevolent, devout, lovingyour neighbor and your God!
Again, it has been whispered-no, it has been boasted by certain very profound philosophers-that the Christian religion hasreached its prime. And though it had an influence upon the world at one time, it is now going down and we want something alittle more juvenile and vigorous, with afresher vigor in its veins to stir the world and produce noble deeds. I have been told many times that the simple preachingof the Doctrines of Grace has no effect now upon the thinking portion of the community. The gentlemen who say this being,themselves, the thinking portion ofthe community in their own estimation-for you must understand that in order to be one of the "thinking portion of the community,"it is necessary not to think in a straight line but to think in a kind of circumbendibus-to think in a style in which nobodyelse canunderstand!
It is necessary that you think till you get at the bottom of things and stir the mud so that you cannot find your own wayand nobody else can see where you are. That is considered to be thinking nowadays-whereas it strikes me that the best formof thinking is that which submits itself toGod's thoughts and is willing to sit at the feet of Jesus. Now is the time, however, for true Believers to vindicate themanliness and force of their faith. It is not true that Christianity has lost its force and its power! And we must make thisclear as noonday. You are God'switnesses, my Brethren! You are put in the box and I pray if in the past or present you have not proven this, do it in thefuture.
The Gospel can now nourish heroes as it did of old-it could furnish martyrs tomorrow if martyrs were required to garnish Smithfield'sstakes! It produces now self-denying missionaries! It educates men and women by the thousands who can bear the sneer and thejeer and who would be prepared tolie in a prison till the moss grew on their eyelids sooner than give up Christ! Our belief is that Christ has the dew ofHis youth and that the Gospel is as adapted to the boasted enlightenment of the nineteenth century as to the darkness of thefirst ages.
But you are God's witnesses and you must prove it, and I must ask every one of you to prove it by the holy zeal, the conspicuousenthusiasm, the sacred fire and fervor that shall blaze and flash in your lives. For truth and for Christ let us teach thisworld that we retain the old power among us!Let us ask the Holy Spirit to enable us to live such forceful vigorous lives that men shall know once more what we can do.Indeed, I am not boastful in venturing to say that there are still a host of facts to prove that the Gospel has not lost itspower over the minds of men. We canpoint to spots in Glasgow, London, Edinburgh-in the most crowded of our cities where once there were dens of infamy andhaunts of vice. And there, by the enterprising benevolence and holy perseverance of single, solitary men, the desert has beenmade to blossom as the rose!
But enough of this! Go, each man! Witness in his own person! Once again-it is our daily business to be witnesses for God onanother question-as to whether or not faith in the blood of Jesus Christ really can give calm and peace to the mind. Our hallowedpeace must be proof of that. Thelast testimony we shall probably bear will answer the question, whether Christ can help a man to die well or not-whetherreligion will bear the test of that last solemn article- whether we shall be enabled to go through the river either triumphantlyshouting, or quietlyaccepting our end.
Well, Beloved, we will prove that when the time comes! And how many there have been among us, whose names we venerate, whohave died rejoicing in the love of Jesus! There are those above whom we mention with a joyous sorrow, when we recollect howwell to the last they testified of the faithfulnessof Christ and His power to bless when all other blessings fail us. You see, then, that there are many questions in disputeand that the Christian's business is to be God's witness, speaking the Truth for God upon these matters.
II. Time flies and therefore I must take you on to the second point, which is to give SOME SUGGESTIONS AS TO THE MODE OF WITNESSING.Let me say, as a first suggestion, that you must witness-you must witness if you are a Christian. You may try to shirk itif you will, but you must witness, foryou are subpoenaed-that is to say, you will suffer for it if you do not. Some Christians think they will sneak comfortablyinto Heaven without bearing witness for Christ. I fear they will be mistaken-and this I know-every Christian who does notcome out distinctlyand boldly for his Master will lose all choice enjoyments.
He may have enough religion to make him wretched, but he shall have none of the joy and peace, the exhilaration and delightwhich a greater boldness and faithfulness would have given him. The bravest Christians are the happiest Christians. Thosewho serve God most have the most enjoyment-andthose Nicodemites who come to Christ by night, generally find it night.
Christian, do not shun witnessing for Christ. After the disgraceful defeat of the Romans at the battle of Allia, Rome wassacked and it seemed as if at any moment the Gauls might take the capitol. Among the garrison was a young man of the Fabianfamily, and on a certain day the anniversary of asacrifice returned-when his family had always offered sacrifice upon the Quirinal Hill. This hill was in the possessionof the Gauls. But when the morning dawned the young man took the sacred utensils of his god, went down from the capitol, passedthrough the Gallicsentries-through the main body, up the hill-offered sacrifice and came back unharmed. It was always told as a wonder amongRoman legends.
I think this is just what the Christian should do when there is something to be done for Christ-though he is a solitary manin the midst of a thousand opponents-let him, at the precise moment when duty calls, fearless of all danger, go straight tothe appointed spot! Let him do his dutyand remember that consequences belong to God and not to us. I pray God that after this style we may witness for Christ.
In the next place, every witness is required to speak the Truth of God, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. Christian,as a witness for God, do this. Speak the Truth, and let your life be true as well as your words. Live so that you need notbe afraid to have the shutters takendown-that men may look right through your actions. You are not true if you have any sinister motive or anything to conceal.Speak in your life the Truth of God and let it be the whole Truth, too. Proclaim for God all the Truth as it is in Jesus andlet your life proclaim thewhole teaching of Truth. Let it be nothing but the Truth.
I am afraid many Christians tell a great deal which is not true-their life is contrary to their words. And though they speakthe Truth of God with their lips, they speak falsehoods with their hands. Suppose, for instance, I draw a miserable face andI say, "God's people are a blessed people."Nobody believes me because my face tells a falsehood while my mouth utters a truth! And if I say, "Yes, religion has a sanctifyinginfluence upon its professors and possessors," and put my hand into my neighbor's pocket in any sort of way, who will believemy testimony? I may havespoken the truth, but I am also speaking something that is not the truth and I am thus rendering my witness of very smalleffect.
When the witness is before the court, his direct evidence is always the best. If a man can only say, "I heard somebody say,"the judge will frequently stop him and say, "We do not want hearsay evidence. What did you see?" Many professing Christiansonly give witness of what they have read in books.They have no vital, experimental acquaintance with the things of God. Now remember, dear Friends, that second-hand Christianityis one of the worst things in the world. We do not like it as we see it in the Church of England-we do not believe in thatsponsorial salvation inwhich one man promises for another that he shall keep all God's holy commandments to be anything better than a lying pretense.
The same is true of any form of religion which you may happen to have-which you borrow from your mother, or take from yourfather-or gather from good books. True religion is more than what we can teach or learn. It is something that must be knownand felt. And your witness for God isnot worth the words in which you utter it, unless it comes from your own experience of its truth. A witness must take carenot to damage his own case. How many professed witnesses for God make very telling witnesses the other way? They damage theircase by either retaining a part ofthe truth, or else by flatly contradicting, as we have said before, in their lives what they have professed!
Do not let it be so! As a witness for God be careful that every action speaks for His Glory-yes, and that every thought andword and deed shall be such witnessing as you shall wish to have borne in the day when the great Judge shall call you to account.Every witness must expect to becross-examined. "He that is first in his own cause," says Solomon, "seems just. But his neighbor comes and searches him."You know how a counsel takes a man and turns him inside out- and though he was one color before-he looks quite another directlyafterwards.
Now you, as God's witnesses, will be cross-examined. Watch, therefore! Watch carefully. Temptation will be put in your way-thedevil will cross-examine you. You say you love God-he will set carnal joys before you and see whether you cannot be decoyedfrom your love to God. You said youtrusted in your heavenly Father-Providence will cross-examine you. A trial will dash upon you. How is it now? Can you trustHim? You said religion was a joyous thing. A crushing misfortune will befall you. How is it now? Can you now rejoice whenthe fig tree does not blossomand the flocks are cut off and the cattle are dead? Can you now rejoice in God as before?
By this species of examination true men will be made manifest and the deceiver will be detected. What cross-examinations didthe martyrs go through? What fiery questions had they to answer? What cutting cross-examinations were the sword, the rack,the spear, the prison, the banishment? And yet youknow how faithfully they witnessed, still standing fast to the Truth of God even to the end! What a noble sight is MartinLuther when under trial! His friends said to him, "Luther, you will never think of going to Worms, will you? Why the cardinalwill burn you as they did JohnHuss." "Ah," he said, "but if they were to make a fire so big that it would reach from Wurttemberg to Worms and should flameup to Heaven, in the Lord's name I would go through it to declare the Truth of God before the council. I would enter betweenthe jaws of Behemoth! I wouldbreak his teeth and would confess Jesus Christ."
Thus Luther was proved to be the true man of God and his witness for God moved the world in his own time and is moving itnow. May we all be able to stand the test of such cross-examinations!
III. Did you observe in the text, dear Friends, that THERE IS ANOTHER WITNESS BESIDE YOU? "You are My witnesses, and My Servantwhom I have chosen." Who is that? Why the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ! If you want an exposition of who this servant is,turn to the Philippians and read thesewords-"Who took upon Himself the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as aman, He became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross."
Witnesses for God are never alone! When they seem alone there is still One with them whom Nebuchadnezzar saw in the fieryfurnace with the three holy children-"The fourth is like unto the Son of God." "Fear not," Christ may well say to all Hisfaithful witnesses, "I am with you, the faithfuland true Witness." Let us remark, concerning Christ's life, that He witnessed the Truth of God, the whole Truth and nothingbut the Truth. If you want to have a witness to every attribute of God, only read the four Evangelists and there you haveit!
Beloved, would you see God's Truth? Observe how Jesus Christ, in all His actions-with a sacred simplicity, with a transparentsincerity-writes His heart out in His every act! Here you have no sophistry, no Jesuitical reservation-He lives out His life-Hisown heart and theheart of God! What testimony you have to God's holiness in the life of Christ! In Him was no sin. "The Prince of this worldcomes and has nothing in Me." Read that Divine Book, "The Life of Christ," through and through and through-you shall findnothing to be put at the end byway of addendum, much less anything by way of errata. It is all there and there is nothing there but what ought to be!
What witness-bearing, too, there is in the life of Christ to Divine Justice. See Him sweating great drops of blood! Mark Hisface marred with a multitude of sorrows! See His brow crowned with thorns, decked with ruby drops of His own blood! Read inHis hands and in His feet the terrible writing ofDivine vengeance! Look into His side and see there the sacred mystery of God's hatred for sin-a hatred so deep that He sparednot His own Son, but delivered Him because of sin! Never could there be a clearer Witness than the bleeding Jesus, of God'shatred to sin! Above all,read Christ's witness to God's love. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to bethe Propitiation for our sins."
In every action of the life of Jesus-from the time when He lay in Bethlehem's manger to the moment when a cloud received Himout of their sight-it is all LOVE! Elijah brings fire from Heaven to destroy-Christ sends it in Pentecost to bless. He opensHis mouth at the firstwith-"Blessed, blessed, blessed"-for so He multiplied that word on the Mount where He preached His first sermon. And Heclosed His earthly sojourn by blessing His people. His paths dropped fatness. No imagination can picture love more deep andpure than that which isreflected in the life of Jesus Christ!
I cannot, however, detain you this morning to show that the entire circumference of Divine excellence is contained in thelife of Christ-that every pearl of Deity is in the Crown which we call Jesus. There is not time to show that He contains inHimself a full declaration of all that theFather is, so that His words are true-"He that has seen Me has seen the Father." Brothers and Sisters, you are to be witnessesfor Christ and Christ is to be a Witness with you. If you want to know how to discharge your duty, look at Him-He is alwayswitnessing. By thewell of Samaria and the Temple of Jerusalem. By the lake of Gennesaret, or on the mountain's brow. He is witnessing nightand day! His mighty prayers are as vocal to God as His daily services.
He witnesses under all circumstances! Scribes and Pharisees cannot shut His mouth! That fox, Herod, cannot frighten or alarmHim! Even before Pilate He witnesses a good confession-He witnesses so clearly and distinctly that there is no mistaking Him.The common people heard Him gladly, foramong other reasons, that no dark, unintelligible jargon concealed His meaning. Beloved, make your lives clear! Be as thebrook where you may see every stone at the bottom-not as the muddy creek of which you only see the surface-but clear and transparent,so that yourheart's love to God and man may be distinctly visible to all.
You need not tell men that you love them-make them feel that you love them. You need not say, "I am true"-be true. Boast notof integrity, but be upright. So shall your testimony be such that men cannot help seeing it. Let me beg of you to never,for fear of feeble man, hold back yourwitness. Never put the finger of shame after this style to your lips. Those lips have been warmed with a coal from off theDivine altar-let them speak like Heaven-touched lips! "In the morning sow your seed and in the evening withhold not your hand."Watch not the clouds!Consult not the wind! In season and out of season still witness for the Lord!
And if it shall ever come to pass that for Christ's sake and the Gospel you shall have to be like Napthali-a people that hazardedtheir lives unto the death in the high places of the field-then blush not, but rejoice in the honor this conferred upon you-thatyou are counted worthyto suffer loss for Christ's sake! For then your suffering shall be a pulpit for you! Your losses and persecutions shallmake you a platform from which the more vigorously and with greater power you shall proclaim your witness for Christ Jesus!
Gird up your loins, my Brethren, and go out from this assembly asking, "Am I God's witness? Then, Lord, open my lips thatI may speak with decision and power and give me Grace that my witness-bearing shall be such that I shall not be ashamed whenthe reporting angel shall read the whole of itbefore assembled worlds." The Holy Spirit is needed for this-may He dwell in us and make our bodies His temple and so makeeach of us witness for Christ!
Remember, this sermon has nothing to do with many of you. You cannot witness for Christ, for you do not know Him. You cannotwitness for Him till you have trusted Him. O you who are out of Christ, let my witness to you this morning be this-that exceptyou seek Him you must perish! But that ifyou seek Him He will be found of you! May the Lord grant you Grace to find Him now and His shall be the glory. Amen.