Sermon 1747. Marvelous! Marvelous!
DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, OCTOBER 28, 1883,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Thus says the LORD of Hosts: If it is marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, will it also bemarvelous in My eyes? says the LORD of Hosts." Zechariah 8:6.
GOD sent His servant Zechariah with a promise that Jerusalem should be rebuilt and that it should enjoy a time of great peaceand prosperity. Instead of men being slain in battle in the prime of their days, old men and old women were to dwell in thestreets of Jerusalem, "every man with his staff in his hand for very age." And whereas war had often cut off the women andthe children, the promise further added, "the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets."Everything was to be prosperous in the land around, so as to bring plenty into the city-"For the seed shall be prosperous;the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will causethe remnant of this people to possess all these things."
It was a sweet assurance and it ought to have made them very happy, but it did not. When this gracious promise came, it startledthe people, for it seemed past belief! The unbelievers did not say, point blank, "This promise is not true," but deep in theirbrains they thought as much. It is not the general habit of unbelief among God's people to give a flat contradiction to Hispromises-we are hardly honest enough to our own thoughts to express them with deliberate plainness of speech-even unbeliefloves to wear some cobweb covering or other so that its naked deformity may not appear. Our reverence for the Lord will notpermit us to distinctly call Him a liar, but it comes to much the same thing, for in our heart of hearts we deny the truthfulnessof His Word.
The remnant of Israel said, "How can this thing be? In these days, in these troublous days, in these threatening days, howcan Jerusalem be made to prosper? Former hopes have been disappointed. We see no better signs of the times and no doubt, ifour hopes are now raised, they will again be disappointed. How can the city rise from its ashes? We can hardly think it possible!At any rate, it will be marvelous, extremely difficult, exceedingly unlikely, indeed, impossible!" They did not say dogmatically,"It will not be," but they said, "It will be a marvelous thing"-by which they meant that it was not in the least likely. Youwho carry Bibles with you which have the marginal readings, will notice that in the margin there is the word, "difficult,"and the text may be read thus, "Thus says the Lord of Hosts: If it is difficult in your eyes, will it also be difficult inMy eyes?"
This is the only instance in which the word, "difficult," occurs in our version of the Bible, and in this case it is onlyto be found in the margin. There is too much of God in the Bible for difficulties to live in it! I would be very glad if Icould always put the word, "difficult," into the margin of my life and never let it stand in the substance of it. I wish myfaith would banish it. Difficulty does crop up, now and then, through unbelief, but where God manifests Himself, difficultyvanishes! Leave it in the margin, Brothers and Sisters! Leave it in the margin! Let it not be read in the annals of your actuallife. A brave self-reliance blots the word, "difficult," out of its dictionary and a full God-reliance may much more safelydo so. If God is for us, all things can be accomplished. Things impossible with men are possible with God!
The remnant of Israel said, "It will be difficult," but then they softened the words a little, and said, "It will be marvelousin our eyes." Still, it came to this-they did not believe the Word of the Lord. They could not conceive how the promise couldbe fulfilled and, therefore, because it surpassed their conception, they supposed that the Lord was equally non-pleased andperplexed. Because the restored prosperity of Jerusalem would be a great wonder, they doubted if it could ever be accomplished!Yet, blessed be the name of the Lord, it was accomplished, for, "though we believe not, He abides faithful; He cannot denyHimself." It certainly was a marvelous thing that Jerusalem, after having been so dreadfully destroyed, should again liftup its head and enjoy a little period of sunlight-but we are called upon to believe in even greater wonders-wonders of a spiritualkind which are more difficult to believe than material miracles!
I am going to talk about what to every intelligent and awakened mind will be the greatest wonder of all, namely, the possibilityof our salvation by faith which is in Christ Jesus. Satan will assail you who are saved and you who are seeking to be saved.And he will aim a blow at your faith. If he does not dare to tell you in his own native tongue of point-blank lying, thatthe promise which the Gospel makes to the Believer is false, yet he will lead you to think it highly improb-able-too goodto be true, too wonderful ever to happen-in a word, he will make it appear marvelous in your eyes and he will hint that itis incredible. So this morning I am going, first, to speak upon carnal reasoning, how it runs. Secondly, to offer a correctionto that reasoning by pointing out an untruth which lies at the bottom of it. And, thirdly, I will try, in conclusion, to dwellupon the truth of the matter and see if we cannot enjoy some right reasoning.
O blessed Spirit of Grace, teach our reason right reason at this hour and make us to perceive all things in the light of theTruth of God!
I. Here we have before us a specimen of CARNAL REASONING. The Jews of those days said, "It is difficult; it will never beperformed. It is marvelous in our eyes; it will never happen." This kind of speech comes from men as soon as they begin tothink about their souls and to desire the salvation of the Lord. We inform them, in God's name, that whoever repents of sinand confesses it, and believes in Jesus Christ, shall receive immediate pardon. This good news surprises them, as well itmay. Straightway the old serpent begins to hiss out a doubt and they ask, "How can it be? Can a man receive, in one moment,forgiveness for 50 years of sin? How can his conscience be cleared by the simple act of believing in Christ? How can the recordof a life of evil be blotted out at once?"
Assuredly, it does not seem possible to a troubled mind! Reason decides that it must be very difficult. Common sense assentsthat it is a marvelous affair altogether-and the poor awakened hearts conclude that the promise of full, free forgivenesscannot be true. Thus they push the promise of God concerning pardon to one side as a good thing which is quite past belief.Then comes the blessing of renewal of heart, such as God speaks of in the Covenant promise, "A new heart, also, will I givethem, and a right spirit will I put within them." Our hearer understands that upon his believing in Jesus he is born againand becomes a new creature with new likes and new hates-an entirely altered being! But understanding the promise is one thingand believing it is another!
A new heart the awakened one desires, but he considers it too great a marvel. He asks, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin,or the leopard his spots? Can I, who have been accustomed to do evil, learn to do well? It will be marvelous, indeed, if sucha sinner as I should be turned into a saint-if such a rebel as I should become a loyal subject of King Jesus! Such a conversionwill be most extraordinary. I do not think it can be carried out." He knows that he cannot subdue his own stubborn will, norconquer his own unruly passions and, therefore, he concludes that the thing is impossible and not to be looked for. Thus anotherchoice Covenant promise is thrown to one side by unbelief and the man sits down in self-created despair, under the persuasionthat a new birth for him would be too marvelous a thing to expect!
Even if the awakened soul proceeds as far as believing in the first two blessings, unbelief comes to him in another way, forthis thief is sure to meet the traveler to Zion again and again! The Lord has promised that the righteous shall hold ontoHis way and he that has clean hands shall wax stronger and stronger. And Christ has declared that the living water which Hegives shall be no transient gift, but shall be in a man a well of water springing up into everlasting life. "Oh, but," saysthe tempted one, "how can I hope to persevere to the end? I shall be, one of these days, tempted so strongly that I shallbe carried off my feet! What with indwelling sin and a cunning tempter and a world full of evil, I cannot hope to endure tothe end! I shall, one day, fall by the hand of the enemy. Do you assure me that the righteous shall hold onto their way? Thenit will be marvelous-it must be so difficult that I fear it is improbable, if not impossible." Thus unbelief pushes to oneside another Covenant blessing.
Further on there comes to the man who has been helped to persevere for a while, the promise that he shall ultimately be presentedfaultless before the Presence of God with exceeding joy-this promise is assailed in the same manner. The serpent of unbeliefleaves its slimy trail upon everything! We are told that a day shall come when the Believer shall be without spot or wrinkleor any such thing, made meet to dwell with the angels in light, yes, and to dwell with God Himself forever! And straightwaythe soul is tempted to think this wonderful effect of Grace to be impossible! When we remember how often we have been worstedby the enemy, how frail, how fallible we are-and how fierce and subtle is our adversary-we dare not hope that we shall seehim utterly defeated and his power broken to pieces. We dwell upon the fact that it will be very marvelous-indeed, the morewe think of it, the more marvelous it becomes in our eyes!
And, alas, unbelief leaps upon the back of our wonder and we judge that the blessing can never be ours. Thus another promisedblessing is thrown under the table. In fact, each mercy of God's Covenant is looked at, wondered at and then renounced-notbecause it is undesirable-but because it is so good, so rich, so full! O wretched unbelief which makes the excellence of thefavor into a reason for refusing it! Help us, O Holy Spirit, to believe our Lord and to reason no more in this evil fashion!I have known children of God, in the time of their great trial when they have been surrounded with afflictions, oppressedwith poverty and depressed in spirit, to become quite incredulous as to the possibility of deliverance. They ask, "How canGod cause our bread to be given us and our water to be sure, now? Can He bring us out of such sore trouble as this? We knowthat He has been gracious to His people in other instances, but our case is one of peculiar difficulty! Surely our Lord hasforsaken us-our God will be gracious no more."
This comes of reasoning, falsely called. When we see no passage through our straits, we are sadly apt to conclude that Godsees none! He has promised that with every trial He will make us a way of escape, but we doubt His Word. Like the unbelievinglord in the Book of Kings, we say, "If God would make windows in Heaven, might such a thing be?" Have you ever said that,my Brother, in your spirit? Dear Sister, has not the Evil One whispered such a word in your ears in dark times? Have you notfancied that you have passed beyond the reach of Divine help and will surely perish? In this way carnal reason is sure toargue and rob God of His Glory and our souls of consolation! It has been so from the beginning, that while doubting God wecover our unbelief with an evil sophistry-and this sophistry does not avail to remove the mischievous tendencies of our mistrust.
Unbelievers, by this wicked reasoning, are left in their spiritual death, while Believers are hampered and sorely wounded.O accursed Unbelief, this is your false argument, "It is marvelous and, therefore, it cannot be true!" We answer you thatbecause it is marvelous it is all the more likely to be true!
II. Secondly, we will now aim our arrows at the dark spot in this carnal argument which makes it all to be false, or, in otherwords, we will CORRECT THIS REASONING. First, let us note that when because the blessing promised is marvelous we, therefore,doubt the promise of God concerning it, we must have forgotten God. "If it is marvelous in your eyes, says the Lord of Hosts,is it therefore marvelous in My eyes?" God Himself puts it so and there is but one answer to the question. My text is a verysingular one, for it is hedged in with the name of the Lord and with a double, "thus says the Lord of Hosts."
It begins with, "Thus says the Lord of Hosts," and it finishes up with, "says the Lord of Hosts," as if twice to bring toour memory that God is and that God has made a promise-and that this Promiser is Jehovah the great and powerful, the Lordof all who has countless armies at His beck and call! This unbelief forgets and, hence, her error. To come to our one subject,that of your own salvation, you hear the promise of eternal life in Christ Jesus and your mind replies, "It is marvelous,it is difficult." Do you not see that you are looking at it as if you had made the promise? From that standpoint it wouldbe, indeed, difficult, even impossible! But whose promise is it? It is not yours but God's! If you were to promise to giveyourself eternal life, to keep yourself to the end and sanctify yourself perfectly, what a foolish person you would be toundertake what you could not possibly perform! But it is not your promise-it is God's promise. Is anything too hard for theLord?
Look at it in that light. It is a marvelous promise for you to receive, but the God who spoke it knew what He was saying andHe knew that He had power to perform it! It is the promise of God, "who alone does great wonders." Remember that! And remember,next, that God does not look to you to fulfill His promises. Do not fall into such a foolish thought! If you make a promise,it is your own business to carry it out, is it not? And if God makes a promise that He will save a sinner-whose work is itto save that sinner? Why, it is the work of the God who made the promise! It is written, "He that believes in Him has everlastinglife." "Marvelous," you say, but who said it? Why, God! Then it is God's department to make it true. If you would but rememberthis-that the pardon of sin is God's business, that the renewing of the heart is God's business, that the keeping of the saintto the end is God's business, that the sanctifying and perfecting of all Believers is God's business-then you would find itmore easy to believe.
Can anything surpass the power of God? Did you ever hear of the Lord being baffled in His designs? Can it be possible thatHe has promised what He is not able to perform? The false reasoning which cries, "It is marvelous and, therefore, impossible,"ignores altogether the fact that God is a marvelous Being and that if His promise is marvelous, it is like Himself! He isa great God and His power and wisdom are infinite-can anything surpass His ability? Would you have
the infinite God confine His promises and gifts to common-place matters? Would it be seemly that the Lord, who is infinitein resources, should do nothing but what you can understand? O Sirs, you forget the Eternal and, therefore, doubt the promise-doso no more!
And, further, the error which vitiates the argument of carnal reason takes another shape. There is here, as far as the Lordis thought of at all, an underestimate of God. The Lord puts this very plainly in our text-"If it is marvelous in the eyesof the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvelous in My eyes?" You are judging God as if He were likeyourself! You have been calculating Divine possibilities by the scale of your own capacity! You have lowered God to the limitofyour understanding! You have narrowed Him to your notion of what He can do and thus you degrade His greatness to your littleness-Hiswisdom to your folly, His power to your weakness! The deed of salvation is marvelous with you, but it is not strange withGod, to whom it has been the great thought of eternity, towards which He causes all things to move.
Everything in wonder depends upon the person affected by it-a trader goes to Africa. He takes with him a looking-glass andyou see the chiefs gather around. And with wonder they gaze upon their own pleasing countenances in the mirror. It is marvelousto them! It becomes the talk of the tribe! But that mirror is not marvelous to the trader who brought it there. A musicalbox is set playing and a whole village of Negroes gather about it, unanimously believing that it must be at least a spirit,if not a god. To them it is a great marvel and they expect the white man to marvel, too, for they measure his capacity bytheir own. Yet their wonderful thing is, to an Englishman, a mere simplicity. Shall we set it down for certain that what isa wonder to us is a wonder to God? This would be absurd! The Lord can do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or eventhink-there is no bounding His power, no searching of His understanding.
"But my sin," you say, "who is to subdue it?" Not you, certainly! But the Lord of Hosts is able to overcome the power of sin!Do not measure God by yourself. "But my trouble, who can bring me through it?" Nobody can except the everlasting God who faintsnot, neither is He weary. The end of the creature is the starting place of the Creator! The limit of our power is soon reached,but the wings of the morning could not bear us beyond the Divine power. Whatever the Lord wills, is accomplished-you can besure of that! When we begin to doubt whether God will love us to the end, is it not measuring God's patience by our impatience?Is there not a calculating of God's Immutability by our mutability? Because we change and grow weary, shall we fancy thatthe Lord also changes? Is there variableness and turning with the great Father of Lights? Has not the Lord declared, "I amGod; I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed"?
When we doubt God's wisdom by questioning whether He can find a way of keeping His Word and helping us, is it not becauseour little knowledge is exhausted and our plans broken down and, therefore, we conclude that God's plans will break down,too, and His invention will fail to contrive our deliverance? Beloved, it is not so! The Lord's way is in the whirlwind andthe clouds are the dust of His feet! His footsteps are not seen, but He walks on the sea! He rides on the wings of the wind!He has sway everywhere and all things answer to His purpose and accomplish His designs! Leave off doubting and believe thatthe Lord's thoughts are as high above your thoughts as the heavens are above the earth! It is at bottom our pride which makesus judge the Lord to be like ourselves. If you degrade God to be like to man, it is because you idolize man and make him tobe God!
Who are you, you creature of an hour? Who are you, you creeping insect upon the bay leaf of existence? Who are you, poor mortal,that today is and tomorrow is shoveled back into mother earth, that you should begin to measure God? Go, measure Heaven withyour span, weigh the Alps in scales and the Andes in balances! Go and hold the Atlantic in the hollow of your hand and whenyou have done these things know that you are not at the beginning of the measurement of the wisdom, the power, the truth andthe goodness of the Lord! This, however, is the fault of carnal reasoning, that it judges the Lord of Hosts by the miserablestandard of human weakness. Do you not see, dear Friends, that if we begin to say that God's promise is so marvelous thatit cannot be performed, we do the infinite God high dishonor? You dishonor His power by imagining that a difficulty has arisenwhich He cannot meet. You suppose a power greater than God, since it baffles and defeats Him. What is this but to set up anothergod? It is a fault charged upon Israel of old as a very provoking crime, that they limited the Holy One of Israel. Oh thatwe may never be guilty of this offense!
But you do worse than that, for I can suppose God to bear the dishonor of His power being limited, but it is far worse, practically,to insinuate that He boasts beyond His capabilities! I tremble as I say that unbelief accuses the Lord of
vain boasting! When a man promises you what he knows he cannot perform, what opinion do you form of him? You say at once,"Why, the man is a boaster! He is big at talking, but small at performing." Will you insinuate that of the Lord God? Has itcome to this, that you dare criticize your Maker? Do you dare insinuate that the Infinite Jehovah has promised to a sinnerwhat He is incapable of giving him? God says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved"-and dare you say,"No, I could not be saved." Does God, then, speak beyond His ability? Does He promise what He is not able to perform?
This is a form of blasphemy from which, I pray, we may be cleansed through the blood of our Lord Jesus! Or is it that youdream that God does not know His own strength? What? Is the Almighty ignorant? Is the only wise God unaware of His own power?Does He not know what He can do? I will not say that a man brags when he promises what he cannot perform, provided that heis unaware of his inability, for in such a case he blunders through ignorance or conceit. Do you dare charge either of theseupon God? Far from me to have such an evil thought! I feel, this morning, that if all your sins were mine, yet since the Lordhas promised pardon to him that believes, I could and would believe over the head of all that mass of sin! Yes, if all theiniquities of all the men that ever lived were laid upon my soul, yet upon that assurance, "The blood of Jesus Christ HisSon cleanses us from all sin," I would even venture my soul's hope of salvation and be sure of success!
If the Lord has given a promise to His people that He will keep them to the end and that they shall not perish, then He willkeep them to the end without fail. Why, Brothers and Sisters, if our road to Heaven were thick with devils, so that they stoodlike blades of wheat in a corn field, yet we should be able to force a lane right through the serried host, the Lord Jehovahbeing our Helper! If all the powers that are, or were, or can be, were to raise themselves up against the promise of God,in the name of God would we defy and defeat them! The Word of the Lord makes us more than conquerors. David said of old, "Theycompassed me about like bees; yes, they compassed me about, but in the name of the Lord I will destroy them." What can standagainst the feeblest man that lives if he has God's promise to back him? The Lord can do just what He wills, whoever may oppose!
Therefore let us fling away this folly of ours in supposing that because a work of Grace is marvelous or difficult in oureyes, it is, therefore, marvelous or difficult in the eyes of the Lord! That which is difficult with us is easy with Him!There is a radical mistake at the bottom of all this wicked, unbelieving reasoning-it leaves out the Lord altogether, or degradesHim below the Glory of His Godhead.
III. We have reached the third division of our discourse and here let us practice a little RIGHT REASONING. I invite any herewho are troubled with doubts about the promise of God to follow me in a few simple considerations. First, it is quite clearthat for our salvation, marvels must be worked. It will be a wonder in all of us for any one of us to attain Heaven-it willneed the Omnipotence of God to renew, preserve and perfect us. It is a rule with regard to miracles that God is very economicalwith them. In the Romish Church you have miracles in abundance, such as they are, but they are, for the most part, needlessparades of power.
When St. Denis, after his head was cut off, picked it up in his hands and walked a thousand miles with it, the dear man mightas well have saved himself and his head the unsightly pilgrimage! When the blood of St. Januarius liquefies, or a Madonnawinks, it may be interesting, but one does not see the necessity for either performance! The God of the Scriptures has nohand in such miracles-they are not of the same order as those which are worked by His right hand. Our Lord never uses a miraclewhere the same thing could be done by the ordinary processes of Nature. But whenever a miracle is requisite, a miracle isforthcoming-there is no stint of power though there is no wasteful display of it, either.
I argue, then, that if it is necessary for you to be saved in order that God's promise may be kept, you shall be saved! Andif, in order to this, marvels are needed, marvels will happen. The Lord reserves no strength when it is necessary to expendit for the fulfillment of His promises. If Omnipotence must make bare His arm, it shall be bared. The Lord led His peopleIsrael to the Red Sea-perhaps if the Egyptians had not come up, it might have been possible to make rafts to ferry them acrossthe water and we are sure it would have been done if it had been the best way of achieving the Lord's design. But when theEgyptians were so close behind that you could hear the neighing of their horses and almost feel the hot breath of their vengefulmasters, then there remained no ordinary way for the people of God to escape, and lo, the mighty depths yawned before thetribes and a road was opened through the heart of the sea that the people of God might pass through!
So it shall be with you. If to forgive your sin needs a miracle of Grace, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and the miracleof Grace is done! If to change your nature needs the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit-if you believe in the Lord JesusChrist, the Spirit waits to work that great change. No, He has worked the change, and your faith is the evidence of it! Ifit shall need all the power of God to keep one of His children to the end, all that power shall be, for though God works notmiracles till they are needed, He is not slow to do so when the case demands them. He will shake Heaven and earth to completethe salvation of His chosen! Therefore, if a deed of Grace is marvelous in your eyes, say to yourself, "Marvelous as it is,nothing short of it will do and, therefore, it shall be done."
It was marvelous that God should become Man, but as there was no salvation for His apart from Immanuel, "God With Us," Jesuswas born of a woman! It is marvelous that the Son of God should die, but as there was no salvation apart from His death, Hedied upon the Cross. If the Lord has given a promise, it must be carried out, cost what it may, for His name is, "God ThatCannot Lie." If there is no way of bringing a saint to God except by the Holy Spirit's dwelling in him, which is a great wonder,then the Holy Spirit shall dwell in him, for the many sons must be brought unto Glory, and if marvels as many as the hairson their heads are needed, so many marvels there shall be!
A second little bit of reasoning may tend to comfort some of you, namely, that, after all, marvelous things are the rule withGod. I say not miracles, although it is difficult to draw the line between the ordinary processes of God's working and theextraordinary ones, for the ordinary are extraordinary and His extraordinary deeds can hardly be more marvelous than His dailyoperations! All the works of God in creation are marvels. Take the telescope and search out the stars. Assuredly an "undevoutastronomer is mad." When we perceive somewhat of the multitudes of worlds that God has made-their vast distances, the proportionsof their bulk, the regularity of their orbits and the rapidity of their mo-tions-we discover that the great machinery of Natureis ordered by infinite skill! "It is the Lord's doing" and it is marvelous in our eyes!
Surely that God who flings the stars about with both His hands can give us our daily bread! if He makes worlds to fly offlike sparks from the anvil of His Omnipotence, He can make new creatures in Christ Jesus! If He keeps all those heavenly lampsshining so brightly for centuries, He can sustain Grace in the hearts of His people without difficulty! But now if you havedone with the telescope, please put it away and let me lend you a microscope. Look at a butterfly from your garden. No, youneed not trouble to examine the whole creature, a portion of a broken wing will suffice for your astonishment. Here is a spider'seye! Are you not surprised? This is the petal of a flower-what amazing beauty! Take but a single portion of a minute bloodvessel and study it awhile. I hear you say, "I never could have believed it! This glass reveals to me such wonders that Iam utterly astounded!"
God is as great in the little as in the great-He is God everywhere! If a man carefully fashions a needle it appears to beexquisitely smooth and polished. Ah, it is only bright because your eyes are weak. Put it under the microscope. It is transformedinto a rough bar of iron! No works of man will bear to be examined with a microscope-but you may search the Lord's work withthe utmost care-the most common, plain, simple-the most ordinary creation of God is perfect! Since, then, all Nature teemswith marvels, why put aside a promise of God because it involves a marvel? Is such conduct reasonable? However, if you haveread through all the pages of Nature, which I am sure you have not, I would invite you to peruse the Book of Providence andsee what marvels are there! I will give you no illustrations, because your own life will probably furnish you with many.
If not, look at the history of any country-see how wondrously God has worked out His everlasting purposes of justice or ofmercy in each land. The story of Providence contains a world of wonders! Why, then, should you doubt the promise of God becauseit involves a marvel? You should, rather, believe it for that very reason! I think there is good reasoning in all this. Followme yet a little further, when I say that you must be prepared to abandon altogether the religion of our Lord Jesus Christif you make it a rule to disbelieve the marvelous. The greatest marvel that I ever heard of is this-"Great is the mysteryof godliness; God was manifest in the finite." How the Infinite could become one with the finite, so that the Baby at Bethlehemshould be the Mighty God, I cannot explain and I think you cannot, either. Are you prepared to forego the Incarnation of Christ?For if you are not, you must not refuse to believe in any act of God because it is marvelous-for it cannot be more marvelousthan God in human flesh!
Think again-it is a cardinal doctrine of Christianity that the dead will rise again-that at the sounding of the trumpet ofGod they that are in their graves will rise to be judged in their bodies. Is not this a marvel? Stand in a ceme-
tery and ask the question, "Can these dry bones live?" Do you believe in the Resurrection? Then you must never set aside anypromise of God because it involves a marvel. You also believe, according to the Word of the Lord, that this world will oneday be the home of God's Glory, for there shall be new heavens and a new earth in which dwells righteousness and the travailof the groaning creation shall come to an end-and this world shall be made anew a temple for the Lord. What an extraordinarything this will be! Yet you believe it. Do not, therefore, ever doubt a single promise that God makes either to saint or sinnerbecause it contains a marvel.
Yet, again, I want you to follow me in another thought, namely, that greater marvels have been already worked than any whichyour salvation and mine will involve! Brothers and Sisters, if it had been whispered to any of us that God would take uponHimself human form and dwell among men, we should have looked much astonished! But if the Prophet had added, "In that formHe will be despised and spit upon, and hung up to die a felon's death because He will bear the sin of man which will be laidupon His perfect Person, so that He will be made a curse for us," we should have said, "No, that cannot be!" Beloved, it hasbeen! Atonement has been accomplished! Christ has borne the load of His people's sins up to the Cross and He has hurled thatweight from His shoulders into His own sepulcher and left them there, buried forever!
No wonder like this remains to be done-the greatest deed is finished! The renewal of our nature and the forgiveness of oursin are but little things compared with what Christ has already done! That He should now save His people seems, to me, notat all extraordinary-it would be more extraordinary that He should die and not save those for whom He died! Having paid theransom price for His heritage, it is but a natural consequence that it should be set free. The greater wonder has alreadyamazed angels, principalities and powers! Oh, think not, though I, for lack of time, have passed lightly over this miracleof miracles-the death of our blessed Lord-that there is not much more to be said of this great wonder! Why, in dying, ourLord destroyed death, and cried, "Where is your sting?"
In rising again, He burst the bands of the sepulcher and opened a way to life to all Believers! In ascending the starry road,He led captivity captive and took possession of Heaven in the name of all His redeemed! And now, this day, He that was despisedand rejected has all power given to Him in Heaven and in earth on our behalf! These great wonders have been finished and registeredin Heaven! It only remains for us simply to receive the result of them by believing in Christ Jesus our Lord! To deliver usfrom the wrath to come is but now a comparatively small marvel. Compared with the griefs and death of the Son of God, nothinggreat remains! Think of that and let your faith be encouraged.
I will not detain you except to remind you of the sweet thought that the more marvels there may be in our salvation the moreglorifying it will be to God. Think of that. The more difficult it will be to save you, the more glory to God when He hasachieved it. Your sin washed away will only demonstrate the power of the precious blood of Jesus! Your hard, stubborn willsubdued will only prove the might of the love of Christ upon your soul! Your trials, temptations, weaknesses and infirmitieswill only glorify that almighty strength which is working in you to produce your ultimate perfection! Believe the promiseall the more because it is so wonderful and, therefore, so honoring to the Lord. Do not let the marvel stagger you-let itencourage you! Say, "If this involved nothing wonderful, I could not think it came from God, but inasmuch as it is great andhigh, it is all the more worthy of God." Make the difficulties of the Bible a help to your faith and let the greatness ofGrace render you the more hopeful of receiving it.
Lastly, let me say, whenever you have any doubts and fears, turn your mind away from the thing that is promised to the faithfulPromiser. We need altogether larger ideas of God! If we had them, we would find it easy to believe His Word. I remember whenI was a boy, being taken to see the residence of one of our nobility, and the good friend who took me noticed my astonishmentat the largeness of the house. I was amazed at it, having never seen anything like it, and so I said, "What a house for aman to live in!" "Bless you, boy," he said, "this is only the kitchen!" I was only looking at the servants' apartments andwas astonished at the grandeur! The mansion itself was a far nobler affair! Oftentimes when you see what the Lord has done,you are ready to cry out, "How can all this be? His goodness, His mercy, is it as great as this?" Rest assured that you haveonly seen a little of His goodness, as if it were the kitchen of His great house-you have not seen the palace of the MostHigh where He reveals His full power and splendor!
You know the story of the general, who, having led his men into a difficult position, went round at night to their tents.He said to himself, "If they are all in good heart we shall fight well tomorrow, for certainly this battle needs all our valor.I need to know the spirit of my men." Going round the camp, secretly, he heard in a tent some half-dozen soldiers
conversing, and one of them above the rest was saying, "I think our general has made a great mistake this time. Look at theenemy-they have so many cavalry, so many infantry and guns," and so forth. He added up all the force of the enemy and anothersoldier chimed in, "What do you suppose our strength to be?" So the other calculated-so many footmen, so many horsemen, somany artillerymen, and so on. He was just going to total it up and make a very small concern of the whole, when the generaldrew aside the canvas of the tent and said, "And pray, my man, how many do you count me for?" Did all the general's skill,valor and renown count for nothing? He who had won so many fights-could he not win again?
Just so, the Lord Jesus Christ, whenever we begin summing up our strength, or rather, our weakness, seems to appear and ask,"How many do you count Me for?" O Sirs! You have not counted the Lord Jesus at the millionth part of what He is! No, the firmestBeliever here has not yet reached the trailing skirts of the garments of Divine Omnipotence! Let us enlarge our minds! Come,Blessed Spirit, reveal Christ in us and let us know more of God and trust Him better! And let nothing be unbelievingly marvelousin our eyes, since nothing can be too hard for the Lord! God bless all of you. Amen.