Sermon 2610. A Witness and a Partaker
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, FEBRUARY 19, 1899.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, NOVEMBER 4, 1883.
"The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partakerof the glory that shall be revealed." 1 Peter 5:1.
KINDLY notice, dear Friends, the Apostle's great gentleness. Peter was not always thus gentle, but the Spirit of God had restedupon him and now he writes with much tenderness. He does not say, "As an Apostle, I command," but, "As an elder, I exhort."It is always well to combine the suaviter in modo with the fortiter in re, that is, suavity in our method blended with strengthin the thing, itself. There are some who are very blustering in their style of speech and there are others who, if they donot bluster, yet in the smallest matter always put forth their greatest force, or what they think to be so. They command andrebuke with all authority-yet here is Peter, who certainly was not a whit behind the very chief of the Apostles-and he speaks,not by way of command, but, addressing the elders, he tenderly exhorts them. Oh, that we may always manifest such a meek andgentle spirit-not drive men, but draw them to Christ-not terrify and threaten, but entice and woo to the Savior those to whomwe are speaking or writing!
Next, notice Peter's humility. "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder." He was an elder, most truly,as are all those who, in word and doctrine, feed the flock of God and who, at Christ's command, take the oversight of thesouls of men. But Peter was much more than an elder, he was an Apostle. There were but few Apostles and those who were calledto that high dignity were greatly favored-yet Peter does not mention his higher office, but, with true humility, he puts himselfon a level with his Brothers. "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder." My Brother, if God has givento you extraordinary talent, do not exalt yourself on that account. If others willingly follow your leadership and you havethe privilege of rendering to the Lord greater service than they can give, what have you that you have not received? And shouldnot the chief among the saints be the servant of all? Is not he really the highest in Christ's esteem who is willing to becounted the lowest? Therefore, let no man exalt himself, or think highly of himself, for this he ought not to do. We admirein Peter-the once headstrong, impetuous Peter-the gentleness blended with humility which leads him to say, "The elders whichare among you I exhort, who am also an elder."
At the same time, let us especially note the wisdom of Peter, for it would have been an unwise thing for him to speak to theelders as an Apostle, for they might have replied to him, "You do not know the worry and toil and trouble of our service.You labor in a higher sphere. You, sitting on the Apostolic benches, are far above us. We, poor plain elders, cannot hopeto attain to such eminence as yours." "No, my Brothers," says Peter, "I am one of you, for I, also, am an elder and, as abrother speaks to brother, so I exhort you. Knowing all your travail of heart and all your hard service in the cause of theMaster, I, sympathizing with you, and altogether one with you, speak from my heart to your heart. Exhorting you, the elders,I, who am also an elder, say to you, Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint,but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples tothe flock. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, you shall receive a crown of glory that fades not away."
It will always be our wisdom, dear Friends, to put ourselves as much as we can into the position of those whom we address.It is a pity for anyone ever to seem to preach downto people-it is always better to be as nearly as possible on the same levelas they are. Paul knew this and, therefore, he became "all things to all men." To the Jew, he was a Jew. Among Gentiles, hewas a Gentile, for it so happened that he belonged to both classes. He was one with all men, barbarian, Scythian, bond orfree. If he had to argue with the learned upon Mars' Hill, he could be a match for them. If he had to speak with the roughand illiterate, he threw out all beauty of language and talked to them in the plainest style. And you and I, if we want towin men to Christ, must act after the same wise fashion. Dear Sunday school teachers, would you be the means of blessing tothe children under your charge? Then, be yourselves, children! Keep a child's heart throbbing beneath a manly breast. If youare a mother, go to the girls in your class as though you were still a girl, yourself, and you shall soon find the key oftheir heart and enter into the innermost chambers of their spirit. A true man welcomes a fellow man-he sees that he is a memberof the great family of mankind and he says to him, "Come in." But if you, in your majestic greatness, speak to me like Jupiterthundering from a cloud, I shall not be likely to regard you. Or, if I do regard you, your message will be forgotten in thegrandeur and glory of yourself! This is what never ought to happen, my Brothers-that people should think of us and forgetour message Let us belittle ourselves that we may magnify our God. Let the Truth of God be borne before us like a shield!And though we are the Lord's armor bearers, let us hide behind the great shield which we lift up before the eyes of men. "'Theelders which are among you I exhort'-not as Peter, the head of the College of Apostles-but as one who is a fellow elder withyou." Therein, we see Peter's gentleness, humility and wisdom combined-and we shall be wise if we imitate him in all thoserespects.
With this introduction, I now come to speak of the two great offices which Peter said that he filled. I cannot help callingthem great, yet they are open to you and to me-and I hope that, by God's Grace, we have also, in our measure, been what Petersaid that he was-"A witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed."
I. First, then, let us think of Peter as "A WITNESS OF THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST." And, as far as possible, let us be witnesseswith him.
Peter was what we have not been, an eyewitness of the suffering of Christ. He actually and in very deed saw our Divine Masterin His terrible griefs. Peter could never forget that he saw the Lord Jesus in His agony in the Garden. He was one of thethree disciples who failed to watch with their Lord even for one hour and who, for very sorrow, fell asleep within a stone'scast of the place where Christ was "exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death." Peter remembered how, when the Master rose fromprayer, and said, "He is at hand that does betray Me," he was there and saw the traitor imprint that cruel kiss upon the cheekof Him who still called him, friend. Peter was, about that time, drawing his sword and cutting off the ear of Malchus-andhe could not fail to remember the look upon his Master's face when he who had eaten bread with Him did lift up his heel againstHim, and the Son of Man was betrayed with a kiss from the apostate Apostle. Peter was also an eyewitness of our Lord's beinghurried away to the bar of Annas where He underwent His preliminary examination. He remembered seeing one strike Him on themouth. He could recall how they charged Him with blasphemy. He could remember how, after the first examination was over, Annassent Him, bound, to Caiaphas. Peter was in the palace of Annas, warming himself by the fire, so he was an eyewitness of allthat transpired. I do not quite know how far that witnessing went, for the time came when he denied his Master, but he couldnever forget that gaze of concentrated agony and pity when Jesus looked at him-not so much reproachfully, perhaps, as mournfully-feelingin His own soul that sorrow which He knew that Peter must, before long, feel. A spark from the torch of the Savior's anguishset the heart of Peter on fire and he went out and wept bitterly.
I believe-I cannot help believing-that Peter rallied, by-and-by, from his fit of cowardice and that he came to the front,again, and saw the Master in Pilate's judgment hall. You know the story of our Savior's griefs and woes and I think that Peterand others of the Apostles were eyewitnesses of His sufferings. They saw Him after He had been scourged. They marked Him afterHe had been despised, flouted and mocked. They saw Him as the Cross-Bearer and heard Him say," Daughters of Jerusalem, weepnot for Me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children." They watched Him as He went in awful anguish along the Via Dolorosat o the Mount of Crucifixion. And they stood and saw Him nailed to the tree, to die there, like a felon, with no relief orsuccor, for God Himself forsook Him. And the bitterest pain of all was that He had to cry," My God, My God, why have You forsakenMe?" Possibly, Peter saw it all. Certainly he was an eyewitness of Christ's sufferings and, I think, when he was writing tothese elders, he seemed to say to them, "Feed the flock of God, for I saw the Great Shepherd when He bought that flock. Iwas there when He purchased the sheep with His own blood. And, after He had risen from the dead, three times He said to me,'Simon, son of Jonas, Do you love Me?' And when I answered, ''Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You," He saidto me,' Feed My lambs. Shepherd My sheep. Feed My sheep.' Therefore, O my Brethren, by His agony and bloody sweat, by HisCross and passion, by His precious death and burial, by His glorious resurrection and ascension, I beseech you, 'feed theflock of God which He has purchased with Jesus' own blood.'" I see great force in this exhortation by the eyewitness who iswriting to his fellow elders.
But, dear Brothers and Sisters, you and I, never having seen Christ in His sufferings, might never have had a participationin this part of our text if there had not been another kind of witnessing, namely, the faith-witness. I do not place thissecond in importance, though I put it second in order, for, indeed, it is of the very greatest importance. There were thousandswho were eyewitnesses of our Lord's sufferings who, nevertheless, saw not the true meaning of them. They saw the dear Suffererbesmeared with His own blood, but into His wounds they never looked by faith. Thousands saw the Savior die, but they simplywent their way back to Jerusalem, some of them beating on their breasts, but none of them believing in Him, or really knowingthe secret of that wondrous death. I trust that I am addressing many who could be grouped together as faith-witnesses of thesufferings of Christ. Speaking for myself, I remember well when my sins, like an intolerable burden, crushed me down. I darednot look up and I never would have been able to look up, or to speak to anyone of the joy which is now within my bosom ifI had not, by faith, seen-
"One hanging on a tree, In agonies and blood, Who fixed His languid eyes on me As near His Cross I stood. Sure never tillmy latest breath Can I forget that look! It seemed to charge me with His death, Though not a word He spoke. A second lookHe gave, which said, 'I f-eely all forgive. This blood is for your ransom paid, I die, that you may live.
Then I saw not only that Christ Jesus died upon the Cross, but I also perceived who He was and why He died-and what He accomplishedby that death. I was helped to learn that He "loved me and gave Himself for me." I understood that He took my place that Imight take His place-that He took my sin that I might take His righteousness-that He bore my woe that I might share His joy.And when I saw that-I do notmean when I heard about it-I do notmean when I read of it-but when I saw it with my soul's innereyes and not only understood it, but perceived my share in my Savior's Sacrifice, and believed in Him to the saving of mysoul, oh, it was a blessed day for me! Many of you, dear Friends, know well what I mean, for you also had just such a sightas I have described. You were faith-witnesses of Christ's sufferings! With some of us, many days have passed since we hadthat first sight of our suffering Lord, yet that sight has been often renewed to us. Sitting at the Communion Table I haveseen it most clearly-the bread and the wine have set forth Christ's broken body and poured out blood-and my soul has realizedwithin herself His Godhead and His Manhood, His perfection and His grief, His sinlessness and yet His sin-bearing, His suretyshipand the way He smarted for it. And it has been a great joy to see it, and to be able to sing-
"He bore on the tree the sentence for me, And now both the Surety and sinner are free"- for Jesus redeemed us completely andeffectually when He died upon the Cross. Many of you, Beloved, have been in like manner, faith-witnesses of Christ's sufferings.
There are some who depreciate this faith-witness, but, Sirs, it is faith that saves! You may be an eyewitness and yet perishas Judas did. You may be an eyewitness and yet be lost as Pilate was. You may be an eyewitness and still hate Christ as Caiaphasdid. But if you become a faith-witness, then shall you be included among those of whom it is written, "They shall look uponMe whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him,as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn." Such a faith-view begets repentance, hope and love-and brings salvation toevery soul that has it!
Peter, then, was an eyewitness, but, better still, he was a faith-witness. And this being the case, he went on to be a testifyingwitness. If a man sees anything happen, he is a witness of it. But he is more manifestly a witness when he comes and saysthat he saw it-when he appears in court and bears a public testimony concerning it. I judge that the principal business ofany minister of Christ, or of any elder of the Church of Christ, is to bear testimony to the sufferings of Christ. If theatoning sufferings of Christ are left out of a ministry, that ministry is worthless. "The blood is the life thereof," is astrue about sermons as it is about animals and sacrifices. A bloodless gospel, a gospel without the Atonement, is a gospelof devils and not the Gospel of God. Many are laboring hard, till their oars bend, to get away from the Gospel of Jesus Christ-Imean hundreds of so-called ministers of Christ-but in proportion as they forsake the Gospel, they cease to be what they pretendto be. They are not the ministers of God, or of His Christ! They are not ambassadors telling of reconciliation to men if intheir teaching the sufferings of Christ are hazy and their cause and motive and objective are obscured. It is the glory ofsome of us that whatever else we bear witness to, we certainly are witnesses of the sufferings of Christ. We declare to menthat there is no hope for them but in Christ who died! We testify to them that we have, ourselves, exercised faith in Hisdeath and have, thereby, received eternal life! We tell them that we know that what we say is true-we are as sure of it aswas that disciple who, when he saw the blood and water flowing from Christ's side, bore witness to it, and added-"He knowsthat what he says is true, that you might believe." These things are not like dreams to us, they are part of our very being!We have believed in the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ and our troubled conscience has therein found peace. Our soulhas been filled with all the fullness of God and, therefore, we are and must be witnesses to the sufferings of the crucifiedSon of God, to the reality of the Atonement that He made on the Cross and to the effect of that Atonement upon the heart andconscience of all those who receive it.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, this is not only the minister's work, but it is your work, too. We are all to be constantlybearing our witness to Christ and saying, "Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world." You know what thepeople said of John the Baptist when he was dead-it is a kind of epitaph which any one of us might be glad to have put onour tombstone-"John did no miracle, but all things that John spoke of this Man were true." He had no great talents. He wasnot noted for His eloquence. He was not s man of commanding presence. He had no recondite knowledge. He had no profound logicalpower, but all that he said concerning Christ was true! I would like to have John the Baptist's epitaph as my own and I wouldbe glad for you to have it, too-that in life and death we might be known as true witnesses to the sufferings of Christ, thepower of which we have felt in our own souls.
There is one other view of this witness-bearing, and that is that Peter was, to a very large extent, a partaking witness inthe sufferings of Christ. He does not say so in our text, but in the 13th verse of the fourth Chapter he wrote, "Rejoice,inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ's sufferings." And he could write like that because of what he had, himself, enduredfor Christ's sake. He had been mocked, despised, persecuted. His life had been sought and he knew that he would have to suffera painful death, for His Master had said to him, "When you shall be old, you shall stretch forth your hands, and another shallgird you, and carry you where you would not." Putting all these things together, Peter could truly say that he was a witnessof Christ's sufferings because he had, in a measure, participated in them.
I hope I am addressing some who can also say-though to a far smaller degree than could the saints of old-"Yes, for Christ'ssake we have been accounted fools. We have been reckoned among those who have not the courage to advance with the times. Wehave been willing to be mocked in the workshop, or in the pulpit, or wherever our lot has been cast among men. And we wouldcheerfully have borne far more if it had been imposed upon us." As the persecuted Believer looks up to his Lord, he can truthfullysay-
"If on my face for Your dear name, Shame and reproaches be, All hail reproach, and welcome shame, If You remember me."
Thus you see how Peter was a witness of the sufferings of Jesus Christ. May each of us be appointed to the same high and honorableposition!
II. The second thing which Peter says of himself is, perhaps, more remarkable than the first. He says that he was 'A PARTAKEROF THE GLORY THAT SHALL BE REVEALED.
I like to see that word, "partaker," coming after the word, "witness," for I do not think that any man can really be a usefulwitness for Christ unless he is a partaker. Can you go and talk to others about the bitterness of sin when you have neverwept over it or repented of it, yourself? Can you speak of the sweets of Divine mercy of which you have never tasted? Willyou magnify "precious faith" when you are, yourself, a stranger to the faith of God's elect? Will you set forth Christ, evidentlycrucified among men, when you have never seen Him, yourself? Can you describe the love which has never cheered your own heart?Will you tell of communion with Christ when you know nothing of its blessedness? Unhappy man! Your office would be, indeed,terrible if you were called to such a work! It were better for you to perform the most menial labor with the most grievoussweat and wear and tear of your very marrow and bones, than have to occupy a pulpit to talk of things which you have nevertasted, handled and felt yourself. I would sooner not exist than be a preacher of the Truths of God which I had never believedin my own soul! The old writers used to speak of men who served in the shambles and butchers' shops and who saw and handledand sold the meat, but who, themselves, died of hunger. And they spoke of wretched folk who prepared dainties for their fellowmen, but who did not, as they expressed it, get so much as a lick of their own fingers, but died of famine while they werefeasting others.
Oh horrible, horrible, must it be to be sick unto death and yet to be selling medicines that will heal! Oh, dreadful mustit be to be hammering away building an ark, as Noah's carpenters did, and yet never to enter it, but to die in the delugewhile the ship which you helped to build bears others over the wild waste of waters! Get home, minister! Tear off your gownand lay aside the very name that makes you appear to be a servant of God! Get down on your knees and cry, "God be mercifulto me, a sinner, and forgive me for ever having dared to assume an office whose duties I could not fulfill! For how can I,who am blind, be the guide of others? And how shall I, who am spiritually deaf and dumb, make others hear? And how shall Itell of God and of His Covenant, and of His Grace, while I know not God experimentally and have no evidence that I am in theCovenant and have never tasted of His Grace?" That is right, Brother-you are getting on the right lines-if you would be awitness, you must first be a partaker! And you who teach in the Sunday school, you who preach at the street corners, you whogo from house to house with your tracts-whoever you are who profess to be witnesses for Christ, take care that you are bothwitnesses and partakers. Join the two together-you cannot witness if you do not partake, or if you witness and do not partake,you only witness to your own condemnation!
Very strangely, Peter here writes of himself as "a partaker of the glory." Did he mean that he was on the holy Mount of Transfigurationand saw the splendor of that sight when Christ was all aglow with a white light which gathered up all brightness and beautyinto its solitary ray? Was he thinking of that memorable scene? I know not. It may have flitted across his mind but, in thispassage, he says that he is "a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed." Not the glory that had been revealed, but thatshall be revealed. Is that possible? Can a man be a partaker of a glory that, as yet, is not revealed?
I answer that he may, first, by the closeness of his union with the glorified Christ. If I am, by faith, indissolubly onewith Christ, then in His Glory I am glorified. On His Throne I am enthroned. By His victory I am "more than conqueror." Ifwe are one with Him, then we are raised up together with Him and made to sit together with Him in the heavenly places. Oh,it is grand when a Believer does not so much think of himself as himself, but as part and parcel of his Lord! This is a veryhigh attainment, yet Peter had reached it-and if you are vitally joined to Christ, you may reach it, too. If you have been,indeed, planted with Him in the likeness of Hs death, you shall also share the likeness of His resurrection-and you even nowshare it with Him, for as He is, so are you in this world! Was He humbled? Every saint underwent humiliation in Christ. IsHe glorified? All His elect are virtually glorified in the glorification of their Covenant Head. It is indeed a blessed thingto know your union with Christ so completely that you are made "a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed" as far asyou are personally concerned, but which is already revealed to Christ and, therefore, is already yours.
I am sure that Peter also means that he had become a partaker of this glory to be revealed by the absolute certainty whichhe felt in his own soul that he should be ultimately, in very deed, a partaker of it When a man knows that he has such-and-sucha possession in reversion, if he is very poor, he discounts it and begins to live upon its present worth. It is a very blessedthing when a child of God knows that because he is in Christ by faith, therefore, whatever things God has laid up for Hispeople in general, He has laid up for him in particular! Whatever Christ has prepared for His redeemed, He has prepared forthis redeemed one. Often his faith does, as it were, appropriate the future glory, and cry, "It is mine." The Believer beginsto glorify God for it, though as yet he has not actually partaken of it, for faith brings him the substance of things hopedfor, and is to him the evidence of things not seen. Brothers and Sisters, the next best thing to being actually in Heavenis to be assured that you will be there, and also to have this thought at the back of the assur-ance-that you may be therewithin the next five minutes! Oh, how speedily may you and I be in Glory! Before the clock ticks again, I may see the faceof the King in His beauty, in the land that is very far off, in some respects, but very near in others. You know how JohnNewton puts it-
"In vain my fancy strives to paint
The moment after death,
The glories that surround the saint,
When yielding up his breath.
One gentle sigh the fetter breaks-
We scarce can say, 'They're gone!'
Before the willing spirit takes
Her mansion near the Throne." Well, since this glory is certain and may be so near, let us sit down and look at the goldengates-look until we see them-until they seem to come nearer and nearer and nearer, until the vision becomes so vivid thatit ceases to be a vision and we are actually where we were thinking that we should soon be! It has so happened to many a childof God. There is one whom God favored with great wealth and to whom a friend said, "What a paradise this lovely garden is!""Yes," he replied, "and I bless God for the assurance that, when I leave it, I shall go from one paradise to another and abetter one." Some have said to a poor Christian, "What an ill-furnished place your room is! How scanty are your worldly goods!""Ah," the man, has answered, "but I have enough to last me till I get Home, for I have the promise that bread shall be givenme, water shall be sure and then I shall have Heaven to crown it all." When we have faith like that, then are we partakersof the Glory that shall be revealed!
There is a step even beyond this when we advance from faith to positive enjoyment. There is such a thing as anticipating theglory to be revealedwith such a full, realizing faith that we begin to enjoy it even now! Surely, you have, at times, satdown with your fellow Believers, when the Word has been preached in the demonstration of the Spirit, and you have said, "Well,Heaven must be glorious, indeed, to be any better than this! My soul is all ablaze with love to Christ and even while my poorbody is lingering here-
"My heart is with Him on His Throne,
And ill can brook delay.
Each moment listening for the voice,
'Rise up, and come away.'"
And when the service has been over, you have said, "My soul was like the chariots of Amminadib-whether I was in the body orout the body, I could not tell." On your bed, sometimes, or in the chamber of sickness, or sitting alone in quiet meditationafter you have been enraptured with a vision of your Lord, has it not seemed as if God had taken some dainty dish from offthe table of the angels and passed it down to His waiting child below? Have you not heard stray notes of which you could almostsay, "I am persuaded that is the angels' song"? And sweet sounds have reached your ears, like the music of "harpers harpingwith their harps," making you impatient of your exile here, but, at the same time, making you unspeakably happy until youshall be called up to join in the grand chorus of the Church of God above! "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from oursins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion forever andever!"
Yes, Beloved, Peter could truly say that he was a partaker of the Glory yet to be revealed. I have no doubt that, sometimes,when he preached the Word, his soul was all aglow with holy fervor. I know that, often, I have been so graciously helped bythe Holy Spirit to uplift my Lord and Master from this platform, that I have not wanted to go up those stairs any more. Iwould have liked to just finish up my discourse and say, "Amen," on earth, and at once begin to sing the everlasting songabove! Have not you, dear Friend, also reached that blessed state? I am sure that Peter was often in that condition. And whenhe was persecuted, despised, imprisoned and his own brethren cast him out, there was often within his own bosom a companyof the angels of God, Christ's sacred host-a very Mahanaim-and, still better, there was the Prince of Princes, the Angel ofthe Covenant, the Lord and Master of all the angels, speaking deep bliss into His servant's soul and filling him with unspeakablejoy and glory!
Now, my Brother or my Sister, if you get that Presence of Christ-and I pray that you may-you will be qualified to be a witnessfor Christ. People will say, "What makes those eyes so bright? What causes that man to be so happy? What is it that producesthat calm, quiet spirit in the house? How is it that that man is not troubled as others are? He does not seem to have muchcause for joy, but he is very serene and placid in spirit." They will perhaps say to you, "What is the secret of it all?"Then you will have an opportunity of saying, "I am a witness of Christ's sufferings, but I am also a partaker of the Glorythat shall be revealed." Come with me, in thought, to Calvary, that you may learn the meaning of His sufferings, that youmay afterwards be taught how you may share His Glory.
I wish I could speak right to the very soul of some of you who do not know my Master-how I wish you did know Him! I cannotimagine what some of you have to comfort you which you can, for even a moment, compare with the bliss of knowing my Lord!I have seen your joys. I know something of what mirth can do and what relief laughter may be able to bring, but I also knowthat these things are of little use in the time of sickness, or when one is near death. It is just at such times that truejoy in Christ becomes more deep, more sweet than ever! The less there is of the creature, the more room is there for the Creator.The more of suffering and sorrow we have to endure, the more of content and bliss can we enjoy. And oftentimes, when the bodyis weak and the head is aching, and the soul is faint, there is, as it were, a sweet swoon of Divine delight which comes overthe spirit, which has more strength in it than strength, more joy in it than joy, and almost as much of Heaven in it as thereis in Heaven! May you know this, for the sake of Him who has loved us and given Himself for us! God bless you all! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: 1 CORINTHIANS 1.
I am going to speak about the testimony of the Apostle Peter concerning his Lord, but we will first read together part ofthe writings of his "Beloved brother Paul," that we may see how these eminent servants of Christ agreed in their witness-bearing.
Verses 1-3. Paul, called to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, andSosthenes our brother, unto the churchof God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in everyplacecall upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, andfrom the Lord Jesus Christ So this is a message to us, also, who "call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord."
4-9. I thank my God always on your behalf, for the Grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; that in everything weare enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so thatyou come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall also confirm you unto the end, thatyou may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ God is faithful, by whom you were called unto the fellowship ofHisSon Jesus Christ our Lord. Paul was going to blame them for some things that were not right, but he began by commending whatevergood was in them by God's Grace.
10-12. Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that therebe no divisions among you; but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment For it hasbeen declared to me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Nowthis I say, that everyone of you says, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ So that, at the least,there were four parties in that one little Church which ought to have been knit together in unbroken harmony! This is onlyone instance of what has happened hundreds of times since. These Corinthians had a great many speaking Brothers among themand they held services in which it was open to anybody to speak as he felt inclined. There was no reason why they should notdo so, but what was the result of it? This Christian liberty of theirs, by-and-by, tended to mischief. They became dividedinto factions. They did not practice discipline as they ought to have done and, therefore, this community at Corinth is abeacon to all other churches, warning them not to carry on their worship in a similar style. It is a very curious thing thatsome people have taken these Corinthians as an example instead of a warning and, having copied their methods, the very sameresult has followed until there is no section of the Church of Christ that has become such a scandal, through its divisionsand its intestine quarrels, as that which has imitated the Corinthians in their mode of worship! I suppose that while humannature is what it is, the same causes will produce the same results to the very end of the chapter. Paul does not tell themthat their mode of worship was wrong-perhaps it was not-for great liberty is allowable to Christians, but he does lay theaxe at the root of their divisions.
13, 14. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptizednone of you, but Crispus and Gaius. They were such a quarrelsome set of people that he could not have taken any comfort fromhaving baptized them. He was glad that they could not quote his name as having done so and thus it may be, have added stillmore to their division and strife.
15-18. Lest any should say that I have baptized in my own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanus: besides, Iknow not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel: not with wisdom of words,lest the Cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; butunto us which are saved it is the power of God. I suppose that in that Church, with its many eloquent speakers and men ofknowledge, there came to be a spirit of emulation among them as to which should speak best. And some were tempted to findnovel meanings in the Word, and to come to the meetings to tell of their wonderful discoveries. The Apostle says that he didnot so preach-he kept to the Cross of Christ, which some counted to be but foolishness. "We know all about that," they said."Ah, but," replied the Apostle, "unto us which are saved it is the power of God."
19-21. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudentWhere is the wiser, where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of thisworld? For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preachingto save them that believe. God, in His infinite wisdom, raised up a number of philosophers just about the time of the comingof Christ and a little before that great event. If ever there were great minds upon the earth, it was then-yet these men,with all their schools of thought, knew not God-and the people did not follow after them, so that the earthly wisdom turnedout to be a failure.
22-29. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block,and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdomof God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men for you see your calling,brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called: but God has chosen the foolishthings of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which aremighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, has God chosen, yes, and things which are not, to bringto nothing things that are: that no flesh should glory in His Presence. And, at this day, it is a great snare to the Churchwhen she glories in her education, when she puts any confidence in the learning, or the wit, or the eloquence of her ministers,when she relies in any degree, whatever, upon an arm of flesh. The sword of the Spirit, if it is put into a velvet and embroideredscabbard, is all the worse for that. Pull it out! The Word of God cannot cut while it is hampered with human wisdom and humanlearning half as well as when its keen edge, alone, is used! It is the Lord, by the power of His Spirit, who must make theWord effectual. Oh, for more faith and truer faith in Him!
30, 31. But of Him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctifca-tion, andredemption: that, according as it is written, he that glories, let him glory in the Lord. There is no one else in whom wemay glory! Away with every form of boasting except that of making our boast in the Lord, and especially of glorying in thegreat atoning Sacrifice of His dear Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!