Sermon 2383. Seeing and Testifying
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S DAY, OCTOBER 21,1894.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, JULY 29, 1888.
"And we have seen and testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world." 1 John 4:14.
THERE are two things joined together in the text which must never be parted-"We have seen and testify." In the first place,never let any man testify what he has not seen. If you are not personally aware of it, do not tell it-it is the personalityof the testimony that is the power of the testimony. That Truth of God which you have never experienced, you had better leaveto somebody else to preach. This is the cause of the failure of a great many ministers-there is no personal conversion atthe back of their ministry and, consequently, no Christian life within them. Their preaching is the testimony of a man whosays that he heard such and such a thing and you know how a judge will stop a witness when he begins to say what others havetold him. "No, no," he says, "what did you see, yourself, my good man? What do you know about this business on your own account?I do not want to know what others said to you about it." So is it with the message delivered from the pulpit-what is neededis that the preacher should bear testimony of what he has seen, tasted, felt and handled. When you try to bring others toChrist, you must do it by bearing witness of what Christ has done for you. If He has never done anything for you-personallyfor you-you cannot testify for Him and must not pretend to do so.
In the next place, what you have seen you should testify. If you have seen those things for yourself, do what Mary did whenshe had seen the risen Christ-she ran to bring His disciples the news! What right have you to see for yourself, alone? No,no, tell the glad tidings! The Light of God is not put to your candle for the candle's sake, alone-it is that men may be enlightenedby its beams. If you have received Light from God, let your Light so shine before men that they may see it and glorify Godfor it! I am afraid that this observation ought to trouble a great many professing Christians. They say that they have seenthe Lord. I have no reason to doubt the truth of what they say, but, having seen, why do they not testify? In our text, itis written, "We have seen and testify," but in many cases, nowadays, it might be written, "We have seen and do not testify,"for some who profess to have seen Christ by faith do not even come forward to confess Him in Baptism, according to His Word-andmany do not unite with the visible Church and do not occupy themselves in the Sunday school, or in any form of Christian usefulness!What will become of you who, having a talent, never put it out to interest? O slothful ones, who have wrapped your talentin a napkin, how will you answer for it in the day when the Master calls your servants to give in their reckoning? If we arewhat we ought to be, we shall first make sure of the seeing and then we shall make equally sure of the testifying! What Godhas joined together, let no man put asunder. "We have seen and testify." There can be no divorce in this case, no breakingof the marriage bond-"We have seen and testify."
I am going to dwell upon these two topics, seeing and testifying, and first, I shall speak to you about Apostolic seeing,for doubtless John may be understood as referring to himself and his brother-Apostles when he says, "We have seen and testify."That will be our first theme-Apostolic seeing. And then, secondly, our seeing, or, how far Christian men and women can say,"We have seen." And then, thirdly, Apostolic testifying and our testifying, for they ought to be alike in a great many particulars.
I. First, then, dear Friends, let me speak a little about APOSTLIC SEEING. John and his fellow-Apostles say, "We have seenand testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world."
Note that this saying was, in their case, eminently clear. Let me read to you the beginning of this Epistle- "That which wasfrom the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and our hands have handled,of the Word of Life; that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you." These men, who were chosen to dwell with Christ,to see His miracles, and to hear His teaching, come forward with a very clear witness. They tell us that which they had seen,that which they had heard, that which they had looked upon and that which their hands had handled.
In the first place, they had heard Christ. This was a high privilege, for, "Never man spoke like this Man." Never was theresuch hearing as when Christ preached! The Apostles had heard their Master's voice in private as well as in public, when Heexpounded to them Truths of God which He did not fully explain to the multitude. What marvelous sweetness there must havebeen in the voice of Jesus! I have no doubt that the melody of it would ring out in the Apostles' ears as long as they lived.They knew, from what they heard from His lips, that the Son of God, even the Lord Jesus Christ, was really before them, forthey heard Him say things which no mere man could have uttered. They heard Him declare wonderful Truths such as never fellfrom the lips of anyone but the long-promised Messiah, the Divine Messenger, who was sent of God. They had heard from Himthat which made them know that He was sent by the Father to save men!
John also says that the Apostles had seen Christ. For more than three years, they had seen Him daily, constantly. They hadalso looked upon Him, the Apostle adds, apparently meaning that sometimes they had gazed upon Him with fixed attention. Youknow what it is to merely see a person, but it is a different thing to look earnestly at him, to feel so struck by his appearancethat you cannot help looking him up and down from head to foot. You are fascinated by him, your eyes are held captive by him,they seem to drink him in and to photograph him on your soul! Now, John says that the Apostles did that with their Lord. Theysaw Him and their eyes looked upon Him. They could not be mistaken about their Lord. John had seen Him on the Mount of Transfigurationand He had also seen Him on the Cross. He says, in his Gospel, when writing of the soldier piercing Christ's side, "He thatsaw it bares record, and his record is true: and he knows that he says true."
The Apostles, therefore, were hearers of Christ and seers of Christ. Besides that, they had handled Him. One of them had laidhis head on his Lord's bosom. After He had risen from the dead, Jesus said to them, "Behold My hands and My feet, that itis I, Myself: handle Me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones, as you see I have." They were not in any doubt thatthe Word was made flesh and dwelt among them! They could not doubt it-all their senses testified to the real Incarnation ofthe Son of God. They knew that He was a real Person, clothed in real flesh and blood. Thus, they had heard, seen and handledthe Christ of God!
Well now, perhaps some of you will say, "We wish we had their evidence. If we had been alive, then, we could speak, now, withmuch greater confidence." Listen to me-the mere hearing of Christ would not convince anybody! There were thousands and tensof thousands who heard Him, yet they heard nothing remarkable in His teaching and even turned away loathing and hating Himbecause of the Truth of God which they could not bear! There was not much advantage in merely seeing Him. Did not myriadssee Him? Yet they saw not His Glory and did not understand that He was the Redeemer of men! Even when He hung on the Cross,many who saw Him only jeered, sneered, turned their backs and went their way. As to handling Him, did not the soldiers handleHim when they scourged Him? Did they not handle Him when they laid the Cross upon Him and when they laid Him upon the Cross?Oh, yes, there was more than enough of handling, and rough handling, too, but they were convinced of nothing even by touchingthe precious body of Jesus.
The fact is, Brothers and Sisters, genuine faith comes not merely by the ear, or the eye, or the hand, but it is flashed intothe soul-perhaps, through the ear-but always directly by the Spirit of God operating upon the heart-and if these Apostleshad not had another sense, a spiritual sense, they would have remained unbelievers! So, after all, they had no great advantageover you. And you, Beloved, who know the Lord spiritually, may also be able to truly say, "We have seen and testify that theFather sent the Son to be the Savior of the world."
But mark you, next, granting that the Apostles were spiritually enlightened, their seeing was eminently conclusive as to themission of Christ. What they saw was not only Christ, but, "that the Father sent the Son." Now, Beloved, this was seen inChrist's miracles. It is specially recorded of our Lord's first miracle, when He turned the water into wine, "This beginningof miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His Glory; and His disciples believed on Him." It was rathera simple miracle, the turning of water into wine, but Jesus did it in such a marvelous manner that the thought
flashed upon the Apostles as He did it, "This is the Son of God! This is the Messiah!" A greater miracle which followed furtheron, is said to have had the same effect upon those who witnessed it. When our Lord Jesus came to the grave of Lazarus, beforeHe raised him, you remember that He said to Martha, "Said I not unto you that if you would believe, you should see the Gloryof God?" And when He had called Lazarus back from the dead, those who were round about saw the Glory of God beaming out inthat miracle, and we read, "Many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him."If any of you had been with Christ during His earthly life and had been spiritually enlightened, you would have seen, in Hiswalking the waves, or in His opening the eyes of the blind, or in His healing all manner of sick folk who were brought toHim, something of His Glory, and you would have felt that the evidence as to His mission was very conclusive.
But, Beloved, the Apostles, also, had conclusive evidence as to the Savior's mission in His life. What a life that was! Ican admire the life of Elijah without wishing to imitate it. I can admire all the lives of the saints of the Old Testamentand of the New, as I find them recorded, and I can even forget their failings. But there is not one, even of the purest andbest lives that we have ever read in the sacred page, that leaves upon us the impression that the life of Jesus does! It isnot only perfect-it is Divine! Singularly enough, it is more worthy of imitation than any other life and yet it cannot beimitated! It is the most human of all lives, but it is superhuman to a very high degree-and yet in no one respect superhumanin the sense that it cannot be copied by our humanity. It was, indeed, an extraordinary life! One who could have seen it inits different phases and learned, by the Spirit's teaching, what it all meant, must have been convinced that none but theSon of God could have lived like this. What the Centurion said about His death, the enlightened observer would have said aboutHis life, "Truly this was the Son of God."
I cannot stay to go into all the other proofs of this point, but I am sure of this, that those gracious men, with the Spiritof God instructing them, must have felt that Jesus Christ was sent of God when they saw His miracles and when they saw Hislife, which was a greater marvel than all His miracles!
Still, I have not quite hit the nail on the head until I say that what they saw was eminently conclusive as to His being sentto save men-"We have seen and testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world." There was nothing aboutChrist's life that was contrary to that declaration. He cursed no man. He called no fire from Heaven upon any man. Even whenwicked men had nailed Him to the tree, He breathed a prayer for them! In every way, He was not a destroyer, but a Savior.These men were, themselves, saved-saved from known sin, saved from groveling occupations, saved from themselves-and they knewit. They knew that the Father must have sent the Son to be the Savior of the world, for He had saved them!
They had also seen Him heal the sick. What a sight it must have been to see Him going through the crowd, as He often did,when the people were laid on their beds in the streets and others came thronging about Him! When they saw Him laying a handon one, here, and healing another, there, and another, there, and yet others, yonder, as though He marched through a regimentof devils and cleared a pathway for Himself, not with sword and spear, but with His own gentle glance and with a touch ofHis loving, yet mighty hands, what a wonder! He came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them-and those innumerable cures,which He so freely dispensed, were clear proofs to the Apostles that the Father had sent His Son to be the Savior of the world!
But they knew it still better after they had seen Him die, after they had beheld His empty sepulcher, after they had feltthe descending Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Then, when the tongues of fire were given them and they went out to speak inHis name and 3,000 felt the mighty touch of Grace, they knew that the Father had sent the Son to be the Savior of the world!And when the bonds were broken which held them in as preachers to the Jews and they went throughout all Asia and boldly crossedto Europe, going everywhere preaching the Word-and Parthians, Medes and Elamites heard the Gospel, and Greeks and Romans bowedin penitence, and Philippians and Colossians flocked to Christ-then the Apostles understood that the Father had sent the Sonto be the Savior of the world! All along their lives there was this clear line of evidence of which they were quite certain-andthey came forth to testify that it was so!
Thus I have brought before you the first point, that is, Apostolic seeing.
II. The second thing is OUR SEEING. Let me put a few matters very plainly and personally, and let each person ascertain howfar he can follow me.
Brothers and Sisters, some of us have seen that Jesus is sent of God to be the Savior of the world. HOW have we seen it? Well,first, by the power of His Word. You have noticed, I daresay, that singular incident concerning the woman of Samaria. Thewoman told the men of Sychar that she had met a Man who had told her all that she ever did, and she believed that He was theMessiah. They listened to her words and then they went out to hear the Savior, Himself. He preached to them and what was theresult? The Samaritans said to the woman, "Now we believe, not because of your saying, for we have heard Him, ourselves, andknow that this is, indeed, the Christ, the Savior of the world." Do you not think that when John was writing this Epistle,the record of what the woman of Samaria said was in his mind and that he unconsciously repeated the words, "The Savior ofthe world," using the very same phrase as the men of Sychar had done? They were convinced of Christ's Messiahship simply bythe power of His Word!
Brothers and Sisters, there are many of us who have the same evidence as these Samaritans had! We have experienced the powerof Christ's Word! I do not mean that we have felt the force of human eloquence, or that we have known the weight of humanargument, but we have proved the might of the Word of the Lord. There is a certain something which goes with the Word of Godwhich is altogether independent of the mannerisms of the preacher. It is the Truth of God, itself, which thrills us, conquersus, holds us in chains, leads us captive, sets us free, puts a new song into our mouths and makes us dance with holy joy!You know that experience, do you not? I believe that often, in this House of Prayer, my Brothers and Sisters, you have felta power far beyond any force that human lips can possess-you know it has been so! You have gone home saying, "God has spokento my soul, today, and I know that the Gospel is true, and that the Christ is Divine. The Father has sent the Son to be theSavior of the world, for I have felt the matchless power of His Holy
Then there are three evidences, mentioned by John in the latter part of this Epistle, each of which is a present power tous. He says, in the 8th verse of the last chapter, "There are three that bear witness in earth: the Spirit, and the water,and the blood: and these three agree in one." Have you not felt the influence of the Holy Spirit as well as the power of theWord? Did not the Spirit come and wither your righteousness, as the Sirocco of the desert destroys the flowers of the field?Did not the Spirit of God come and put life into you when you lay like the dead? Did He not come and point you to the Savior-evengiving you eyes with which to look to Him? Has not the Spirit of God often illuminated you, quickened you, comforted you,guided you? Has He not been to you as the fire, the dew and the wind? Then, if you know the operations of the Spirit of Godand, you do, unless your profession is a lie, you, also, have seen that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of theworld!
The next witness is concerning the purging by the water. Now, has not the water, which flowed from Christ's riven side, operatedupon you? If you are what you profess to be, my dear Brother, you are a clean man. Once you were foul enough, but you havebeen washed and now you are a different man. The things you then loved are now horrible to you, and you hate them, for a greatchange has come over you. You have been washed from your love of filthiness and your delight in sin! Yes, and the washingprocess goes on every day-you are daily helped to leave off one sin and another- you are made not only to see the evil withinyou, but to conquer it. Is it not so, dear Brothers and Sisters? You know that if the Grace of God has not sanctified you,you are without one great evidence of its power-but if it has changed your character, then depend upon it, you have an evidencethat it came from God. Thus, we also, "have seen and testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world,"because He has cleansed us and made us to love holy things, and to hate everything which God hates.
The third witness tells of the cleansing by the blood. Do you know anything about cleansing by the blood of Jesus, the bloodthat speaks to a conscience all in a tempest through sin? The blood that gives access to God to sinners far off from Him bywicked works? The blood which we plead in prayer? The blood which has become the foundation of all our hope? I can truly saythat when I first learned the Doctrine of the Substitution of Christ, His dying in my place, and understood that I had nothingto do but to look to Him and live, it was with me as when the sun shines in Lapland after months of midnight! Oh, what a blesseddawning was that to my soul! Now, if you know the power of the blood of Jesus upon your conscience and your heart, then you,also, can say, "We have seen." And I hope you may truly be able to add, "and testify that the Father sent the Son to be theSavior of the world!"
Besides all this-the power of the Word, the influence of the Holy Spirit, the purging by the water and the cleansing by theblood of Jesus-we have other evidence, namely, the aspirations of our souls. Are there not, within you, longings
and desires for which you never can account if there were not a Savior for men? When God gave to humanity the appetite ofhunger, you might have inferred from it that He meant to provide food to satisfy it. When He gave to us the capacity for thirst,we might be sure that, somewhere, there would be rippling rills from which that thirst might be slaked. When the Lord gaveto us, as He has given, a sighing after holiness, a longing after nearness to Himself, a devout hope that we shall be caughtup to be with Him where He is, these Heaven-given longings are proofs that they will be gratified-but they cannot be unlessthere is a Savior of men! Thank God there is such a Savior who will give us all that for which we are sighing! "It does notyet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like He, for we shall see Him as He is."
But I need not talk of mere aspirations. As far as I am concerned, I can speak about matters offact which prove to me thepower of my Lord and Master, for I have seen the triumphs of Christ. I saw some of them last Tuesday. I am always seeing themand, God willing, I shall see some more of them next Tuesday! I have seen men who used to live in sin and drunkenness, madehonest and sober! And I have seen fallen women brought to Jesus' feet as penitents! All along what is growing to be a longministry, the chariot of the Gospel, in which I have ridden, has had captives to grace Christ's triumphs! All along, multitudeshave decided to quit the ways of sin and have turned to the living God! And I must believe in the power of Divine Grace, Icannot doubt it! The proof of what the tree is, surely, is found in the fruit, and the fruit is most abundant. Ask the missionarieswhat Christ has done in the Southern Seas and they will tell you of islands, once inhabited by naked cannibals, where nowmen are clothed and in their right mind, sitting at the feet of Jesus! The whole world teems with trophies of Christ and shallyet more fully teem with them. "We have seen and testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world," andwe preach with the full conviction that "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."
III. So now I come to my last point and that is a practical one. Thirdly, let me speak about APOSTOLIC TESTIFYING AND OURS.
I trust that many of you can join in what the Apostle John said, "We have seen that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviorof the world." Now let us bear our testimony concerning it as the Apostles did and, first, we should do it in the same manner.What was the Apostolic manner of testifying? Well, I would say that it was very fervent and ardent. Those first preachersof the Gospel never preached cold sermons. Why, some sermons hang like icicles upon the lips of the speaker, but the Apostlespreached as if they were all on fire! Their lips were like the mouth of Mount Aetna when it vomits lava-every word burnt itsway into the hearts and consciences of men! Never talk coldly of Christ who was on fire with love to you-preach the Gospelardently!
The Apostles also proclaimed their message very simply. I do not believe there ever was an Apostolic sermon in which the preachertried to show himself off. There is no record of any display of oratorical fireworks, no grand closing peroration. I alwaystell my students that this is the 12th Commandment, "You shall not perorate." [Speak at great length, in a grand manner.]Yet many preachers will do it-there must be something very splendid at the end of the discourse to impress people with theidea of how wondrously they can do it! Do not do it, Brothers, do not do it! Tell the people the way to Heaven and point itout to them as plainly as you can-and if there are two or three little words of plain Saxon that will do it, use them, andfling the long Latin words on the dunghill where they ought to rot! They are no good, whatever, in the pulpit, for we needspeech that can be easily understood by the people-the plain speech of the common folk of our day. So the Apostles spoke andso should we.
But they also spoke very boldly. You never meet with any timidity in them. We read in the Acts of the Apostles, "Now whenthey saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and theytook knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus." Do not some preachers appear to apologize for what they are aboutto say? They trust that they will be excused for venturing to intrude their opinion. I would ask your pardon if I intrudedmy opinion, but in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ I have not any opinion of my own! I preach God's Word to you, and at yourperil do you reject it! You are bound to receive it as it comes from Him and no apology is to be made by the man whom Godsends. So the Apostles spoke boldly in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and Jesus Christ of Nazareth backed up theirwords. If God has not sent you, my Brother, go home! But if He has, in God's name, do not apologize for His message! Thereis an honor put upon you by your Lord who sent you, and you must put honor upon your Master by being faithful to Him.
Thus, like the Apostles, we have to bear testimony for Christ, and we should do it in the same power. What was the power withwhich the Apostles testified? Was it the power of their superior education? They had not any, with, perhaps, the exceptionof Paul. They could manage a boat better than most of us can, but that was their principal attainment. Did they speak in thepower of being (-what is the word, now?) "en rapport with the spirit of the age"? I may as well use a fine expression sometimes!Did they speak as men "keeping themselves abreast of the times"? Not a bit of it! They hated "the spirit of the age" in whichthey lived and struggled against it with all their might! What was the source of their power? Their only power was the HolySpirit and, Brothers, we, also, must come to see that there can be no power in us to win a soul for Christ but the supernaturalenergy of God the Holy Spirit! If we have that, the work will be done. If we are without it, we shall be as sounding brassand a tinkling cymbal.
Then, again, if we are to testify as the Apostles did, we should do it with the same message. What was that message? "TheFather sent the Son to be the Savior of the world." Then, the world is lost. We must not stammer in saying that! And everyman in the world is lost by nature and by practice, lost, with a great loss, a loss from which he cannot recover himself,a loss from which only God can save him! We must bear our testimony to that Truth of God. Then we must dwell upon the Senderof the Savior-"The Father sent the Son." That great Father against whom we have rebelled, who will bring His wandering childrenhome, again, "The Father sent the Son." We must also testify much about the Sent One. "the Father sent the Son," not an angel,not a man prepared by education or training, but He sent the Son out of His own bosom, the Son out of the glories of Heaven!The Eternal Son of God, commissioned by the Father, came to earth!
And with what design did Jesus come? He came to save, to save by making such a propitiation for sin that God could be justified,and also the Justifier of him that believes. He came to save by delivering us from the dominion of sin, that henceforth weshould not serve sin, but should be lifted above it, right away from the power of everything that held us as slaves to Satan.And what was the scope of Christ's work? "The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world." He did not come to condemnthe world, but to save it, that the world, through Him, might be saved. His one mission here was to be the Savior. He willcome a second time to be the Judge of all-but in His first coming, He came to be a Savior, and only a Savior. He has goneup into Heaven, but He is still the Savior, able to save to the uttermost them that come to God by Him-and He is the onlySavior.
In a certain district there may be many who pretend to cure the sick, but only one who is qualified to act as surgeon. Andthere are many who pretend to save, but there is only one qualified Savior beneath the cope of Heaven, and He is the LordJesus Christ, who is here styled, "the Savior of the world," because He is the only Savior in the world. As a man may be saidto be the doctor of a district because he is the only doctor in the district, so is Christ the Savior of the world becauseHe is the only Savior who ever was or ever will be in this world!
He is "the Savior of the world," that is to say, of all ranks, classes and conditions of man. No difference of color, no differenceof race, no difference of wealth, no difference of talent, no difference of standing and rank, no difference of educationand attainment makes any difference to Him. Jesus Christ has come to be the Savior, not of the rich, nor of the poor. He hascome to be the Savior, not of the learned, nor of the ignorant, but, "of the world." He comes to save men as sinners. "ChristJesus came into the world to save sinners," not merely great sinners or little sinners, open sinners or secret sinners, butplain "sinners." This is the sort of people for whom He laid down His life. He has come to seek and to save that which waslost, not that which was lost in one particular way or in another special way, but that which was lost any way-lost to itself,lost to God, lost to goodness, lost to hope, lost to Heaven-yes, if lost to morality, Jesus Christ has come to seek and tosave that which was lost!
He was sent to be the Savior of the world because no man, believing in Him, is excluded from the merit of His death. "Godso loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlastinglife." He will ultimately, as a matter of fact, save none but His elect. This will be the end of all His coming, and living,and dying-but that does not conflict, for a single moment, with the universal invitation that is to be given to you and toevery creature under Heaven- "Whoever will, let Him take the water of life freely." Whoever believes in Jesus has everlastinglife. "Come unto Me," says Christ, "all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." "Him that comes toMe, I will in no wise cast out." "Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are as scarlet, theyshall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
What I am saying is the result of what I have seen and of what many here have seen. "We have seen and testify that the Fathersent the Son to be the Savior of the world." Will you, dear Hearers-I speak to some who have never heard me before-will youaccept our testimony? If you judge us to be false, you will not receive it, but if you have judged us to be honest and truemen, accept what we declare to you!
I pray you, receive our message, for to what end do we bear our testimony? I should like John to say a final word to you andthen I will have done. This is why we bear our testimony, we do it with the same design that led John to write concerningthe life of Christ, "and many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in thisBook: but these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you mighthave life through His name." There is salvation! There is Christ ready to save! Look to Him, blind eyes! Look to Him, deadsouls! Look to Him! Say not that you cannot-He in whose power I speak will work a miracle while yet you hear the command andblind eyes shall look, and dead hearts shall spring into eternal life by His Spirit's effectual working! God grant that itmay be so, for His dear name's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: 1 John 4.
Verse 1. Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are goneout into the world. It was so in John's day. It is so in these days. If there were only one false prophet, we should haveneed to be on our guard, but, "many false prophets are gone out into the world." If false prophets were all shut up in a cage,and we had to go to seek them, there might be some danger to be apprehended from them, but there is so much more danger, nowthat we can truly read, "Many false prophets are gone out into the world."
2. Hereby know you the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God. Wherethe Godhead and the Manhood of Christ are truly and properly confessed, so far, at any rate, the confession is of God.
3. And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist,of which you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. So that there were deadly errors veryearly in the history of the Christian Church! The loving Apostle John did not handle them with gloved hands, but he dealtwith them honestly and sought to destroy them. We must not wonder if, in our days, the Church has many heresies in it-butthey are not to be tolerated, but to be cut up-root and branch!
4. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.The people of God are few, feeble, and weak, but there is a Spirit in them mightier than the spirit of the world! And, asthe ultimate victory will depend upon the strength of the indwelling Spirit, the Church of God will yet overcome the worldthat lies in the Wicked One.
5. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world hears them. These false prophets teach doctrinesthat suit carnal men-"They are of the world, therefore speak they of the world." They take their cue from "the spirit of theage." They speak according to the fashion of the world and, therefore, it is no wonder that the world hears them.
6. We are of God: He that knows God hears us; he that is not of God hears not us. Here is an Inspired answer to those whosay that they attach no importance to the Apostles. They profess to be the followers of Christ, but they say that they donot agree with Paul and with John. Very well, John speaks in the name of all the Apostles when He says, "He that knows Godhears us; he that is not of God hears not us."
6. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. If you reject any part of the Word of God, the spirit of erroris within you. Truth is one, and the Revelation of God is one-let us not rend it, let us hold fast by it all-and so provethat the Spirit of truth is in us.
7. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loves is born of God, and knows God. The spiritof love, kindness, self-sacrifice, holy charity-this is of God. This is the distinguishing mark of the Christian dispensation,the distinguishing mark of the Christian-that he abounds in love, not in malice, anger, revenge, bitterness. "Let us loveone another: for love is of God."
8. He that loves not knows not God; for God is Love. I have known men, professing to be Christians, at enmity with their brothers.I have heard of a father and a son who have not spoken to one another for months. Did I hear of a mother and a daughter whowould not speak to each other, and of sisters who had fallen out? This will not do! You must either give up your Christianprofession or give up your hatred! The very attempt to combine enmity and Christianity is a sin against God-"He that lovesnot knows not God; for God is Love."
9-10. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that wemight live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiationfor our sins. Sometimes people say, "How can we love a person who is not lovable, one who will not love us in return?" YetGod did so-He loved us when we loved Him not! He loved us when there was nothing lovable in us and we ought to take God asour Pattern in all things.
11-12. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought, also, to love one another. No man has seen God at any time. If we love one another,God dwells in us, and His love is perfected in us. Though we cannot see God, yet if we love one another, that is a proof thatwe have Him dwelling within us.
13-16. Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testifythat the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwellsin Him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has to us. The two things go together, knowing andbelieving.
16-18. God is Love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we mayhave boldness in the Day of Judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect lovecasts off fear. There is no slavish dread, no spirit of bondage-perfect love casts it all out. May we all have that love andget rid of all fear!
18-20. Because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us. If a mansays I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar. That is very plain language! John does not mince matters. He is alllove, but he is also all truth. Some people think that if you love, you will never use strong language, but that is not thecase. Sometimes, because a surgeon loves the patient, he cuts the more deeply.
20, 21. For he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandmenthave we from Him, That he who loves God, loves his brother, also. Now I do not know to whom this message may specially applyin all this great congregation, but there is the Word of God as plain as a pike-staff! If you do not live in love, you donot live in God! and if any of you are harboring any animosities, ill-feelings and unkindnesses, get rid of them, get ridof them at once! The sun has well near gone down-remember the Apostle Paul's injunction, "Let not the sun go down upon yourwrath," but, as God has forgiven you, forgive all others for Christ's sake, and dwell in a loving-hearted Christ-like spirittoward all mankind.