Sermon 3392. Justification by Faith
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 1914.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S DAY EVENING, APRIL 28, 1867.
"Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 5:1.
WE desire this evening not to preach upon this text as a mere matter of Doctrine. You all believe and understand the Gospelof Justification by Faith, but we want to preach upon it tonight as a matter of experience, as a thing realized, felt, enjoyedand understood in the soul. I trust there are many here who not only know that men may be saved and justified by faith, butwho can say in their own experience, "Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,"and who are now, at the present moment, walking and living in the actual enjoyment of that peace!
Wishing to speak of the text, then, in this sense, I shall ask you to accompany me not only with your ears and with the attentionwhich you usually give so generously, but also with the eyes of your self-examination, asking yourselves, as we proceed, stepby step, "Do I know that? Have I received that? Have I been taught of God in this matter? Have I been led into that Truthof God?" And our hope will be that some person to whom these things have hitherto been merely external and, therefore, valueless,may be led by God to get hold of them, so that they may be matters of soul, heart and conscience-so that they may enjoy themand find themselves where once they feared they would never be, namely, in a state of reconciliation with God-happily enjoyingpeace with the Most High.
Our first thought shall be some plain, earnest talk concerning-
I. A FEW PRELIMINARY DISCOVERIES WHICH A MAN MAKES BEFORE HE GETS PEACE WITH GOD.
These, I do not think, are by any means foreign to the text, or merely imported to it, but belong rightfully to it. You seethat Paul, before he came to this justification by faith, had been speaking about sin. It would not have been possible forhim to have given an intelligent definition ofjustification without mentioning that men are sinners, without informing themthat they had broken God's holy Law and that the Law, by and of itself, could never restore them to the favor of God. Now,some of these things of which I am going to speak are absolutely necessary, if not to my sermon, yet certainly to your spirituallyunderstanding even so much as one jot or tittle of what it is to be justified by faith!
Well, then, what are these things? The first discovery that a man is led by the Spirit of God to make before he is justifiedis that it is important to be justified in the sight of God. Many people do not know this. You shall step into a shop thisevening and find a man at the counter, and you say to him, "Well, do you never go to a place of worship?" "No," he would say,"but I am quite as good as those who do." "How so?" "Well, I am a great deal better than some of them." "How is that?" "Well,I never failed in business. I never duped people in a limited liability company. I never told lies. I am no thief. I am nota drunk-I am as honest as the days are long in the middle of June-and that is more than you can say of some of your religious,people." Now, that man has got a hold of one part of a good man's character. There are two parts, but he can only see one,namely, that man is to be just to man. He sees that, but he does not see that man is to be also just to God. And yet if thatman were really to think a little while, he would see that the highest obligations of a creature must be not to his fellowcreatures, but to his Creator-and that however just a man may be to another man, yet if he is altogether unjust to God, hecannot escape without the severest penalty! But oh, the most of men think that so long as they keep the laws of the land,so long as they give to their fellow men their due, it matters not though God's day should be a subject of scorn, God's willbe used as men will and God's Law trodden under their feet! Now, I think that everyone here who will but put his fingers tohis brow for a moment and think, that he will see that even though a manmay go before the bar of his country and say beforeany judge or jury, "I have in nothing injured my fellow man. I am just before men," yet it does not make the man's characterperfect. Unless he is also able to say, "And I am also just before the Presence of the God who made me and whose servant Iam," he has only kept one half-and that the less important of God's Law for him.
It cannot help being-it must be important to the highest degree that you and I should stand on good terms with the great Godunto whom we shall so soon return in the Great Day when He shall say, "Return you children of men." We must then render upour souls to Him who created us. Well, you can surely go as far as that with me-that it is necessary. You do feel, do younot, a desire in your heart to be just before your Maker? I am thankful that you can go so far.
The next thing is this. A man, when the Spirit of God is bringing him to Christ, discovers that his past life has been marredbadly by serious offenses against the Law of God. Before the Spirit of God comes into our soul, we are like being in a roomin the dark-we cannot see in it. We cannot discover the cobwebs, the spiders, the foul and loathsome things that may be lurkingthere. But when the Spirit of God comes streaming into the soul, the man is astonished to find that he is what he is! Andespecially if he sits down and opens the Book of the Law and, in the light of the Divine Spirit, reads that perfect Law andcompares it with his own imperfect heart and life! He will then grow sick of himself, even to loathing and, sometimes, despair!Take but one command. Perhaps there are some here who will say, "I know I have been very chaste all my life, for the commandsays, 'You shall not commit adultery,' and I have never broken it-I am clean there." Yes, but now hear Christ explain thecommand, "He that looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart." Now, then, whoamong us can say that we have not done that? Who is there upon earth, if that is the meaning of the command, who can say,"I am innocent"? If the Law of God, as we are told by Scripture, has to deal not with our outward actions, alone, but withour words, and with our thoughts and with our imaginations-if it is so exceedingly broad that it applies to the most secretpart of a man-then who of us can plead guiltless before the Throne of God? No, dear Brothers and Sisters, this must be understoodby you and by me, before we can be justified, that we are full of sin! What if I say that we are as full of sin as an eggis full of meat? We are all sin! The imagination and the thought of our heart is evil and only evil, and that continually.If some of you plume yourselves with the notion that you are righteous, I pray God to pluck those fine feathers off you andmake you see yourselves, for if you never see your own nothingness, you will never understand Christ's All-Sufficiency! Unlessyou are pulled down, Christ will never lift you up! Unless you know yourselves to be lost, you will never care for that Saviorwho came "to seek and to save the lost." That is a second discovery, then, that it is important to be just before God, butthat on account of the spirituality of God's moral Law and our consequent inability to keep it perfectly, we are very farfrom standing in that position.
Then there comes another discovery, namely, that consequently it is utterly impossible for us to hope that we ever can bejust before God on the footing of our own doing. We must give it up, now, as an utterly lost case. The past is past-that cannever be blotted out by us! And the present, inasmuch as we are weak through the flesh, is not much better than the past.And the future, notwithstanding all our fond hopes of improvement, will probably be none the better! And so, salvation bythe works of the Law becomes to us a dreary impossibility! The Law said, "Cursed is everyone that continues not in all thingswritten in the Book of the Law, to do them." I was conversing on one occasion with one of our most illustrious Jewish noblemen.And when I put to him the question-he believed himself to be perfectly righteous, and I believe if any man could be so byhis moral conduct, he might have fairly laid claim to it-but when I said to him, "Now, there is your own Law for it, 'Cursedis everyone that continues not in all things written in the Book of the Law, to do them'-have you continued in all things?"He said, "I have not." "Then," and I found that to be a question for which he, at any rate, had no answer-and it is a question,which, when properly understood, no man can answer except by pointing to the Cross of Christ and saying, "He was made a cursefor us that we might be made a blessing." Unless you and I keep the Law of God perfectly, it matters little how near we getto perfection! It is as though God had committed to our trust a perfect crystal vase and had said, "If you keep that whole,and present it to me, you shall have a reward." But we have cracked it, chipped it-ah, my Brothers and Sisters, the most ofus have broken it and smashed it to pieces! But we will suppose that we have only cracked it a little. Yes, but even thenwe have lost the reward, for the condition was that it should be perfectly whole-and the slightest chip is a violation ofthe condition upon which the reward would have been given! But you say that you will not break it farther. But you have brokenit! You have thrown yourselves outof the list. It sometimes seems hard when you tell people that if they have violated theLaw in one point, they have broken the whole of it-but it is not so hard as it looks to be, for if I tell a man who is goingdown a coal mine on a long chain that if he breaks one link of the chain, it does not matter though all the other hundredsor thousands of links may be sound-if there is only one link that is broken-down will descend the basket and the poor minerwill be dashed to pieces! Nobody thinks that is difficult. Everybody recognizes that as being a matter of mechanical law thatthe strength of a chain must be measured by its weakest part. And so, the strength of our obedience must be gauged by thevery point in which it fails. Alas, our obedience has failed and, through it, no one of us can ever be just before God!
Now, I want to stop a minute and put the question round the galleries and below stairs. Have you all got as far as that? Itis important to be just before God-we see that we are not so-do we see that we cannot be so? Are we quite convinced that byour own obedience to the Law of God, it is hopeless for us to think of standing accepted before the Most High? I pray theEternal Spirit to convince you all of this, or you will keep on knocking at the door until you are quite sure that God hasnailed it up forever! And you will go scrambling over that Alp and tumbling down this precipice until you are convinced thatit is impossible for you to climb it-and then you will give up your desperate endeavor and come to God in God's way-whichis quite another way from your own! I trust that we are all convinced of this.
Let us notice one more preliminary discovery. A man, having found out all this, suddenly discovers that inasmuch as he isnot just before God and cannot be, he is at the present moment under condemnation! God is never indifferent towards sin. If,therefore, a man is not in a state in which God can justify him, he is in a state in which God must condemn him! If you arenot just before God, you are condemned at this very moment! You are not executed, it is true, but the condemnation has goneforth against you and the sign that it is so is your unbelief, for, "He that believes not is condemned already, because hehas not believed on the Son of God." How some of you would spring up from your seats tonight if all of a sudden you got theinformation that you had been condemned by the courts of your country! But when I say that you have been condemned by theCourt of Heaven, this glides across your conscience like drops of water, or oil over a marble slab! And yet, my Hearers, ifyou did but know the meaning of what I am saying-and I pray God the Holy Spirit to make you know it, it would make your verybones quiver! God has condemned you! You are out of Christ! You have broken His Law! God has lifted His hand to smite you!And though His mercy tarries for awhile, yet days and hours will soon be gone-and then the condemnation shall take the shapeof execution-and where will your soul be, then? Now, you must have the sentence of condemnation passed in your own soul, orelse you will never be justified, for until we are condemned by ourselves, we are not acquitted by God! Again I pause andsay, Do you feel this, my dear Hearer? If you do, instead of despairing, be hopeful! If you have the sentence of death withinyou, be thankful for it, for now shall life be given you from the hand of God's Grace!
Having occupied, perhaps, too much time over that, we now come more immediately into the text to-
II. SHOW THE GOSPEL LEARNING WHICH IS TAUGHT TO US BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD.
That Gospel learning I may give you in a few sentences, namely, these, that inasmuch as through man's sin, the way of obedienceis forever closed, so that we-none of us-can ever pass by it to a true righteousness, God has now determined to deal withmen in a way of mercy, to forgive them all their offenses, to bestow upon them His love, to receive them graciously and tolove them freely! He has been pleased, in His Infinite Wisdom, to devise a way by which, without injury to His Justice, Hecan yet receive the most undeserving sons of men into His heart and make them His children- and can bless them with all theblessings which would have been theirs had they perfectly kept His Law, but which now shall come to them as a matter of giftand undeserved Grace from Himself.
I trust we have learned that that there is a plan of salvation by Grace and, by Grace alone-and it is a great thing to knowthat where Grace is, there are no works!
It is a blessed thing to never muddle in your head the Doctrine of working and the Doctrine of receiving by Grace, for thereis an essential and eternal difference between the two. I hope you all know that there can be no mixing of the two. If weare saved by Grace, it cannot be by our own merits! But if we depend upon our own merits, then we cannot appeal to the Graceof God, since the two things can never be mingled together. It must be all works or else all Grace. Now, God's plan of salvationexcludes all our works. "Not of works, lest any man should boast." It comes to us upon the footing of Divine Grace, pure Gracealone. And this is God's plan, namely that inasmuch as we cannot be saved by our own obedience, we should be saved by Christ'sobedience! Jesus, the Son of God, has appeared in the flesh, has lived a life of obedience to God's Law and, in consequenceof that obedience, being found in fashion as a Man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of theCross! And our Savior's life and death make up a complete keeping and honoring of that Law of God which we have broken anddishonored. And God's plan is this-"I cannot bless you for your own sakes, but I will bless you for His sake. Looking at you,I must curse you, but I have laid the curse on Him and now, looking at you through Him, I can bless you though you deserveit not. I can pass by your undeserving. I can blot out your sins like a cloud and cast your iniquities into the depths ofthe sea through what He has done. You have no merits, but He has boundless merits! You are full of sin and must be punished,but He has been punished instead of you-and now I can deal with you." This is the language of God put into human words, "Ican deal with you upon terms of mercy through the merits of My dear Son." This is the way in which the Gospel comes to you,then. If you believe in Jesus-that is to say if you trust Him-all the merits of Jesus are your merits and are imputed to you.All the sufferings of Jesus are your sufferings. Every one of His merits is imputed to you. You stand before God as if youwere Christ, because Christ stood before God as if He were you-He in your place, you in His place. Substitution! That is theword! Christ, the Substitute for sinners! Christ standing for men and bearing the thunderbolts of the Divine opposition toall sin! He "who knew no sin, being made sin for us." Man standing in Christ's place and receiving the sunlight of Divinefavor, instead of Christ.
And this, I say, is through trusting, or believing! God's way of your getting connection with Christ is through your relianceupon Him. "Therefore, being justified"-how? Not by works! That is not the link, but-"being justified by faith, we have peacewith God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Christ offers to God the substitution-through faith we accept it-and from that momentGod accepts us!
Now, I want to come to this, dear Friends. Do you know this? Have you been taught this by the Spirit of God? Perhaps you learnedit in the Assembly's Catechism when you were but children. You have learned it in the various classes since then, but do youknow it in your own soul and do you know that God's way of salvation is through a simple dependence upon His dear Son? Doyou so know it that you have accepted it and that you are now resting upon Jesus? If so, then thrice happy are you!
But, going further, I have now to dwell for a minute or two upon-
III. THE GLORIOUS PRIVILEGE OF THE TEXT.
We have led you, and I hope the Spirit of God has led you, too, through the preliminary discoveries and through the greatdiscovery that God can save us through the merits of Another! Now let us notice this glorious privilege word by word.
"Being justified." The text tells us that every believing man is at the present moment perfectly justified before God. Youknow what Adam was in naked innocence in Paradise. Such is every Believer. Yes, and more than that. Adam could talk with Godbecause he was pure from sin and we, also, have access with boldness unto God our Father because, through Jesus' blood, weare clean. Now, I do not say that this is the privilege of a few eminent saints, but here I look around these pews and seemy Brothers and Sisters-scores and hundreds of them-all of whom are tonight just before God-perfectly so! Completely so-sojust that they never can be otherwise than just-so just that even in Heaven they will be no more acceptable to God than theyare here tonight! That is the state into which faith brings a poor, lost, guilty, helpless, good-for-nothing sinner! The manmay have been everything that was bad before he believed in Jesus, but as soon as he trusted Christ, the merits of Christbecame his merits and he stands before God as though he were perfect, "without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing," throughthe righteousness of Christ!
Note, however, as we have noticed the state of justification, the means whereby we reach it. "Being justified by faith." Theway of reaching this state ofjustification is not by tears, nor prayers, nor humbling, nor working, nor Bible-reading, norChurch-going, nor Chapel-going, nor sacraments, nor priestly absolution, but by faith-which faith is a simple and utter dependenceand believing in the faithfulness of God-a dependence upon the promise of God because it is God's promise-and is worthy ofdependence. It is a reliance with all our might upon what God has said! This is faith-and every man or woman who possessesthis faith is perfectly justified tonight!
I know what the devil will say to you. He will say to you, "You are a sinner!" Tell him you know you are, but that for allthat, you are justified. He will tell you of the greatness of your sin. Tell him of the greatness of Christ's righteousness.He will tell you of all your mishaps and your backslidings, of your offenses and your wanderings. Tell him and tellyour ownconscience, that you know all that, but that Jesus Christ came to save sinners, and that although your sin is great, Christis quite able to put it all away. Some of you, it seems to me, do not trust in Christ as sinners. You get a mingle-manglekind of faith. You trust in Christ as though you thought Christ could do something for you-and you could do the rest. I tellyou that while you look to yourselves, you do not know what faith means! You must be convinced that there is nothing goodin yourselves-you must know that you are sinners and that in your hearts you are as big and as black a sinner as the veryworst and vilest-and you must come to Jesus and leave your fancied righteousnesses, and your pretended goodnesses behind you!And you must take Him for everything and trust in Him. Oh, to feel your sin, and yet to know your righteousness-to have thetwo together-repentance on account of sin, and yet a glorious confidence in the all-atoning Sacrifice! Oh, if you could understandthat saying of the spouse, "I am black, but comely"-for that is where we must come-black in myself, as black as Hell, andyet comely, fair, lovely, inexpressibly glorious through the righteousness of Jesus!
My dear Brothers and Sisters, can you feel this? If you cannot feel it, do you believe it? And do you sing in the words ofJoseph Hart-
"In your Surety you are free, His dear hands were pierced for thee! With your Savior's vesture on, Holy as the Holy One."
For so it is-you stand before God as accepted as Christ is accepted and, notwithstanding the inbred sin and corruption ofyour heart, you are as dear to God as Christ is dear and as accepted in the righteousness of Christ as Christ is acceptedin His own obedience!
Have we got so far? That is the point on which I want to enquire this evening. Have you got as far as to know at this momentthat it is through faith we are justified? If so, I shall conduct you just one step farther, namely to observe-and this iscoming back, while it is also going forward-that "we are justified by faith through our Lord Jesus Christ." There is the foundation!There is the mainspring! There is the tree that bears the fruit! We are justified by faith, but not by faith in itself. Faithin itself is a precious Grace, but it cannot in itselfjustify us. It is " through our Lord Jesus Christ." Simple as the observationis, I must venture to repeat it tonight because it is hard for us to keep it in mind. Remember that faith is not the workof the Spirit within, but the work of Christ upon the tree! That upon which I must rest as my meritorious hope is not theblessed fact that I am now an heir of Heaven, but the still more blessed fact that the Son of God loved me and gave Himselffor me! My dear Brothers and Sisters, when all is fair weather within, there is such a temptation to say, "Well, now, it isall right with me, for I feel this and I feel that." Very good, these evidences are in their places, but oh, when it growsdark and when, instead of these gracious evidences, you get equally clear evidences that you are not perfect-when you haveto say, "Oh wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" You will find that instead of yourbeautiful evidences, you will have to fly to the Cross! There was a time when I, too, could take a great deal of comfort inwhat I believe is the Spirit of God's work in my soul. I do thank God for it, and bless Him for it now, but I trust I havelearned to walk where poor Jack the huckster, walked-
"Im a poor sinner, and nothing at all! But Jesus Christ is my All-in-All."
Brothers and Sisters, it is down on the ground that we must live! We must build upon the Rock, itself! On the top of somemountains men sometimes build heaps of timber, so as to get a little higher. Well, now, some of these rickety platforms, youknow, get shaky, but when you get right down on the mountain, itself, it never shakes and you are perfectly secure there!So sometimes we get to building up our rickety platforms of our experience and our good works-all very well in their way,but then they shake in the storm! Depend upon it, that the soul that clings to the Rock, notwithstanding all that the HolySpirit has done for it, and having nothing, then, to depend upon, more than the poor dying thief had when, without a singlegood work, he had to hang on the dying Christ, alone-oh, believe me, that soul is in the safest place to live in-and the mostblessed place to die in! None but Jesus! None but Jesus for a poor sinner when he is torn from his cups and his sins! Andnone but Jesus for the aged saint when he stays himself upon his bed to bear his last testimony-
"Nothing in my hands I bring-
Simply to Your Cross I cling."
"Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
And now, to crown all, there is here the precious, precious privilege which such men enjoy-"we have peace with God." I knowthat this may seem a trifle to thoughtless people, but not to those who think! I cannot say that I sympathize with those peoplewho shut their eyes to the beauties of Nature. I have heard of good men travelling through fine scenery and shutting theireyes for fear they should see! I always open mine as wide as ever I can because I think I can see God in all the works ofHis hands-and what God has taken the trouble to make, I think I ought to take the trouble to look at! Surely there must besomething to see in a man's works if he is a wise man-and there must be something worth seeing in the works of God who isAll-Wise! Now, it is a delightful thing to say, when you look upon a landscape lit up with sunlight and shaded with clouds,"Well, my Father made all this. I never saw Him, but I do delight in the work of His hands-He made all this and I am perfectlyat peace with Him." Then as you are standing there, a storm comes on. Big drops begin to fall. There is thunder in the distance.It begins to peal louder and louder. Presently there comes a flash of lightning. Now, those who are not at peace with Godmay go and flee away, but those who are perfectly at peace with Him may stand there and say, "Well, it is my Father who isdoing all this. That is His voice, the voice of the Lord which is full of majesty." I love to hear my Father's voice. I amnever as happy as in a tremendous storm-and when the lightning flash comes, I think-well, it is only the flashing of my Father'seyes! Now, God is abroad-He seemed as if He had left the world before, but now He comes riding on the wings of the wind! Letme go and meet Him. I am not afraid!
Suppose you are out at sea in a storm. You are justified by faith, and you say, "Well, let the waves roar! Let them clap theirhands! My Father holds the waters in the hollow of His hand, why should I be afraid?" Let me say to you that it is worth somethingto believe that God can put us in a calm state of mind when "earth is all in arms abroad." It is just so with the Believerwhen temporal troubles come. There comes crash after crash until it seems as though every house of business would come down.Nothing is certain. Man has lost confidence and reliance in his fellow man. Everything is going bad. But the Christian says,"God is at the helm. The whole business of business is managed by the great King-let the sons of earth do as they will, but-
"He everywhere has sway, And all things serve His might."
It is something to feel that my Father cannot do me a bad turn. Even if He should use His rod upon me, it will do me good,and I will thank Him for it, for I am at perfect peace with Him.
And then to come to die and to feel, "I am going to God and I am glad to go, for I am not going like a prisoner to a judge,but like a wife espoused goes to her husband-like a child home from school to the parents' arms. Oh, it is something to diewith a sense of peace with God! Surely every thoughtful man will feel that! Now, if you trust Christ, you shall be justifiedby faith. Being justified, your heart shall feel that perfect peace is brought into it, so that you shall meet your Father's will with perfect equanimity, let it be what it may! Come life, come death, it shall not matter to you, for all is rightbetween God and your soul!
Oh, I wish it were so with all present! It may be so if God the Spirit brings you to rest in Jesus. No, it shallbe so, mydear Friend! It shall be so with you tonight! Though you never thought it would be when you came in here, yet you see it allnow. It is simply believing, simply trusting! Oh, believe Him! Trust Him and it shall be the joy of your soul to have a peacewith God which as the world did not give you-so the world shall never take away! But you shall have it forever and ever! Godgrant it to each one of us! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: LUKE15:25-32.
Most of us recognize the beauty of this parable as it concerns the prodigal and his boundless forgiveness by the father, butfew of us probably have seen how the elder brother has his portrait also painted by our Lord and how He sets forth the self-righteousprofessor who hates to have prodigals made much of.
25. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. This was thebetter one of the two. I have heard him often greatly blamed and so he deserves to be. But for all that, he was a true son.He was not at home. He was out at work. There are some Christians that are all for work and never seem to have any fellowshipand communion. They are always active, but they are not always contemplative. He was in the field.
26. And he called one of the servants and asked him what these things meant He was a gloomy spirit-good, solid, regular, constant-butnot very joyful. He took things rather severely, so he did not understand what this amusement could mean. "Some of the SalvationArmy got in here," he said. "Some of those boisterous Methodist people got here and I do not like it. I am more regular thanthat. I do not like these rows and uproars. He asked of the servant what these things meant.
27. 28. And he said unto him, Your brother is come: and your father has killed the fatted calf because he has received himsafe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in. No, I dare say he was glad his brother was back, but he did not likesuch a fuss made over him. He was glad to see a wandering one restored, but why, why, why should there be all this extravaganceof joy concerning this wandering young fellow who had been no better than he should be? Why all this delight? And there aresome kinds of Christians who always feel that when there is a sinner introduced into the Church, "Well, I hope that it willturn out a genuine case," and always that is the first thought! They are afraid that it cannot be. They have never sinnedin that way. They have been kept by the Grace of God from outward transgression and they are half afraid to hear of theseoutrageous sinners being brought in and so much joy made over them. "He was angry, and would not go in."
28. Therefore came his father out, and entreated him. He was worth fetching in. There was a good deal of solid worth in hischaracter and his father kindly came to ask him to come in and share the joy.
29. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years have I served you. You may read it, "slaved for you."
29. Neither transgressed I at any time your commandment: and yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with myfriends. Here have I been constant in the House of Prayer, regular at my Sunday school class-and yet I get little or no joyfrom it. I go on just in the regular path of duty but I have no music and dancing! I have a great many doubts and fears, butvery little exhilaration, very little delight.
30. But as soon as this, your son, was come, which has devoured your living with harlots, you have killed for him the fattedcalf He has been a great sinner and he is newly converted-and he has got all the joy! He has been running, anyhow, and yethe is full of assurance, full of delight, full of confidence. How can this be? I am a staid Christian having but slight joy,and he is but newly converted, but confident and full of delight. You have killed the fatted calf for him! But even one ofthe little kid goats you have never given me. You have given him the fatted calf.
31. And he said unto him, Son, you are always with me, and all thatIhave is yours. Why did not this son wake up to his privileges?Instead of not having a kid, he might have had whatever he liked! "All that I have is yours." He had been put into such aposition as that, instead of being badly treated as he, perhaps, would half accuse his father of treating him. "Son, you arealways with me. You live at my table. My house is your house. I love you and delight in you. All that I have is yours."
32. It was meet-It was right, it was proper, it was fitting-
32. That we should make merry, and be glad, for this, your brother. "You call him my son, but he is your brother, and I remindyou of it-this, your brother."
32. Was dead, and is alive again: and was lost, and is found. So if there are any here that do not take the joy which theyought in the conversion of great sinners, let them hear the gentle persuasive voice of God. You, as Believers, have everything!Christ is yours. Heaven is yours. You are always with God and all that He has belongs to you. But it is proper and fit thatwhen a sinner returns from the error of his ways, they should ring the bells of Heaven and make a fuss over him, for he wasdead and is alive again! I hope that you and I will never catch the spirit of the elder brother. Yet I remember that Krummachersays that he sometimes found that same spirit in himself. There was a man in the village where Krummacher lived, who was agreat drunkard and everything that was bad. But all of a sudden he came into a very large sum of money and became a wealthyman. Krummacher felt, "Well, this hardly looks like the right thing-so many good, honest, hard-working people in the parishstill remaining poor, and this worthless man has suddenly become wealthy and well-to-do." It seemed a strange way in the orderof Providence. Oh, we ought to rejoice and be glad when another person prospers! And we ought to wish that his prosperitymay be blessed to him.
I remember a minister years ago, when first Mr. Moody came, saying that he did not believe that Mr. Moody was sent of God,"Because," he said, "I find that many of the people who are converted under him never went to a place of worship before. Itis only the riffraff that are brought in." There is a nasty elder brother spirit! The riffraff were just the people that wewanted to bring in and if they had never been to a place of worship before, it was time that they should go! It was a mercythat they were brought in! Oh, instead of ever sniffing at sinners as if we were better than they, let us welcome them withall our heart and praise the heavenly Father that He so lovingly takes them in!