Sermon 2663. A Leap Year Sermon
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, FEBRUARY 25, 1900.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, FEBRUARY 29, 1880.
"One born out of due time." 1 Corinthians 15:8.
PAUL thus describes himself. It was necessary that Paul, as an Apostle, should have seen the Lord. He was not converted atthe time of Christ's Ascension, yet he was made an Apostle, for the Lord Jesus appeared to him in the way, as he was goingto Damascus, to persecute the saints of God. When he looked upon himself as thus put in, as it were, at the end of the Apostles,he spoke of himself in the most depreciating terms, calling himself, "one born out of due time."
Those who are acquainted with the Greek tongue know what a despicable term Paul here applied to himself-as though he was scarcelya man at all. At any rate, as the very last of the family, "born out of due time," and not only the last, but also the veryleast, for he says, "I am the least of the Apostles, that am not meet to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the churchof God." Scholars will know why I cannot exactly explain the word which Paul uses, but rather keep to the rendering of ourtranslation, which, although it may not have the force and full meaning of the Greek expression, is, perhaps, none the lessuseful for public reading. "One born out of due time."
Paul thought very humbly of himself. He reckoned himself less than nothing and put himself down at the very lowest estimate-andmentioned that he was brought to Christ and made an Apostle when the time for such a work was apparently over. Out of datealtogether, beyond the period when it might have been thought that another Apostle would be called of God, there was Paul-foundas "one born out of due time."
My subject tonight is, first, the singular time of Paul's spiritual birth. There are many of God's true children who, likethe Apostle, were "born out of due time." When I have expatiated upon that fact, I shall speak of the sure evidences of hisspiritual birth and show you that, although "born out of due time," he was born-and there were sure evidences of his spiritualbirth-which evidences, I trust, may be seen in many of us, also!
I. First, then, let us think of THE SINGULAR TIME OF PAUL'S SPIRITUAL BIRTH.
There are still some who, like the Apostle, are born to God "out of due time." They are truly born again, regenerated, converted,at a most unlikely season. There have been multitudes brought to Christ under earnest sermons, when the appeals of faithfulmen have thrilled the congregation and the Truth of God has been effectually carried home to the hearts of many of the hearers.But there have also been times when God's ministers have waxed faint, when the sermon has appeared to be destitute of allforce, when nobody has seemed to have felt the power of the sermon and, apparently, the Truth of God has fallen quite flat!Yet, on many such occasions there have been some sinners converted to God when we would hardly have thought it to be possible!
Mr. Tennant, a famous American minister of Whitefield's time-one of the most earnest and seraphic men who ever proclaimedthe Gospel of Jesus Christ-had a hearer who remained unmoved under many a score of his most faithful sermons. Others weresaved, but not this man. He seemed unmoved and immovable, but it came to pass, on a certain Sab-
bath, that a very unusual thing happened. Mr. Tennant had prepared his sermon with great care. It was what we are known tocall a laborious discourse into which he had put all the thought and all the pains possible. But he had not been preachinglong before his memory completely failed him! His mind refused to work and, after floundering about for a while, he was obligedto sit down in great confusion and say that he could not preach to the people that day. The man I have mentioned, who hadnever before been impressed under Mr. Tennant's ministry, was that daycalled by Sovereign Grace as "one born out of due time,"for he was led to see that there was a spiritual and supernatural force which had usually helped the pastor to preach-andthat when this Divine influence was withdrawn-he was as weak as other men and could not speak with power as he had been accustomedto do! This Truth of God, somehow or other-for human minds are strangely constituted and things which have no effect uponcertain people, very greatly affect others who are present at the same time-this Truth, I say, induced the man to think! Andthinking, he was led to believe in God, and to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of his soul. He was, withoutdoubt, one "born out of due time."
I would like to break down, as Mr. Tennant did, if some of you would be born to God by that means! I would rather be dumband win a soul for Jesus, than speak with the tongues of men and of angels and yet men's hearts should not be impressed bythe Truth of God I proclaimed! How often I have found that when I have gone home and sighed, and cried, and groaned over asermon in which I felt no liberty, but thought it was an utter failure, it has afterwards been proved that, here one, andthere another, have come forward blessing and praising God for that very testimony which seemed to me so faulty and feeble,but which the Spirit of the Lord has savingly impressed upon them! So, still, there are some who in this way are "born outof due time," through the Holy Spirit's use, even, of the preacher's weakness and apparent failure!
Another illustration may be taken from the opposite side of the same Truth. Some are converted when they seem, themselves,to be in a state of mind in which they are the most unlikely to be impressible. I remember being in Dr. John Campbell's house,one day, when he told me that a minister was preaching at Whitefield's old Tabernacle in Moorfields, one evening, when therewere present, under very strange circumstances, two young men who had fallen into dissipated habits and who had made an appointmentwith each other for the commission of some gross sin that very night. Had they committed what they had planned, it may bethat they would have plunged themselves into a career of vice from which they might never have been extricated. They werepassing by the Moorfields Tabernacle, which some of you remember, and as they needed to know the time at which they were tomeet for this unholy purpose, one of them said to the other, "Go in and check the time-there is sure to be a clock in there."But the clock was not fixed as it is here, at the back of the preacher, but the other way-so the young man had to go somelittle distance further in than he intended, in order to see the clock. If I remember rightly, the preacher that night wasMatthew Wilks, and he was just uttering some quaint remark, something that arrested the young man's attention and held himfast in the aisle. His companion waited outside for a time, but it was cold, so he thought he had better go in and look atthe clock, himself, and fetch his friend out. He went in-the arrows of the Lord pierced the heart of both of them! The secondof those young men was John Williams, the famous missionary and, at last, the martyr of Erromanga! Thus they, also, were "bornout of due time."
You would not have thought it possible that those men would become, as they did, preachers of the Gospel, when they were,at that very time, desperately set on the commission of a great sin against God and their hearts were wholly given up to thepleasures and follies of this world! But so it happened and our Lord still knows how to stop men as He stopped Saul of Tarsuson the road to Damascus. He is the man who says that he was "born out of due time" and he is a wonderful instance of thismethod of Divine interposition. He has in his possession the letters from the High Priest which will enable him to bind thesaints and carry them off to Jerusalem. He is riding towards Damascus and is within sight of the city when, in the very midstof his high-handed course of persecution, the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, intervenes and smites him down to the ground! Presently,Paul rises to pray and, in his three days' blindness and fasting, to seek the Lord and then to find Him, to the salvationof his soul and the joy of his spirit-and thus to become an Apostle of that very Savior whom, in his ignorance, he had beenpersecuting! After such a triumph of Divine Grace, let us never despair of anysinner, however far he may have gone into sin!
You know how Paul, writing to Timothy, said of himself, "For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me, first, Jesus Christmight show forth all long-suffering for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting." TheGod who blessed the broken sermon of Mr. Tennant can bless our imperfect work in the pulpit, the Sunday
school, or anywhere else! And the God who saved such men as John Williams and his companion, when they least thought of sucha thing happening, can also save some who have strayed in here, tonight, little dreaming what designs of love God has towardthem in bringing them at this time under the sound of His Word!
I consider, next, that a convert may be described as one "born out of due time" when he is brought to Christ after some greatrevival or notable religious movement has come to an end. There are some of you who attended the recent special services conductedhere by Messrs. Fullerton and Smith. What power there was in those hallowed gatherings! Some of your neighbors wept underconviction of sin, but you did not. Some of them came to Christ and are now rejoicing in Him, but you did not come to Him.You were not even impressed during the meetings, though, possibly, you wished to be. Or it may be that you began with a desireafter better things, but you ended in indifference. And now the special services are all over and the good men who came amongus to preach and sing the Gospel are gone-and you have been saying to yourselves, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended,and we are not saved." Ah, but our Lord has a blessed way of picking up the stragglers behind the army! When the main bodyhas marched on with sound of trumpet, praising God, there are a few left behind-and the Lord Jesus sometimes comes and picksthem up! I do earnestly pray that some of you may be thus picked up by Him just now, so that you may be able to say, "We werenot born for God when many others were, but, like Saul of Tarsus, we were 'born out of due time.' But, blessed be God, wewere born again by the effectual working of His Spirit! We were brought to Christ, to the praise of the glory of His Grace,and now we, also, have become children of God by faith in Jesus Christ." Pray that it may be so dear Friends! O you Christianpeople, bow your hearts before God and ask that it may be so! Perhaps the very fact that those services are over and thata gracious opportunity has gone may be impressed upon the minds of some who were present during the meetings, but who werenot converted-and they may now seek the Savior and find Him to their everlasting salvation and happiness!
The Lord can bless strange methods to the awakening of the ungodly. When Puritanism seemed to be trodden under foot, in thereign of James I, and the king issued the Book of Sports, and gave commandment that every clergyman was to read from the pulpit,on Sunday, that it was the royal will and pleasure that the young people should play at football, cricket and other gamesand pastimes on the Lord's-Day afternoon, godly ministers who really loved the Lord did not know what to do. One of them thought,perhaps, it would be well to do as the king ordered and to say something beside, so, when the Sunday came for reading theBook of Sports to the people, he said, "I am commanded by the king and the authorities to read to you the following document,but it grieves my heart and conscience to have to read it. I know it is wicked, wrong, shameful and abominable to desecratethe Sabbath as you are invited to do, and I wonder what will become of my country when even from the church, itself, Sabbath-breakingis recommended."
So, the good man spoke, to the relief of his own conscience and in hope of awakening the consciences of others. It happenedthat there was in the congregation, that day, a young man who had always been a ringleader in the Sabbath sports-he was nosooner out of church, in the morning, than he was on the village green, fast and furious in all the amusements of the time.But, when he heard that Book of Sports read, he said to himself, "well, I acted in that way on my own account and it was wrongenough for me to do so, but now I say with the minister, "What is to become of all the country if everybody is to be as badas I have been? What will happen to the nation if this kind of thing is to go on?" The thought struck him so forcibly thathe became, first, a serious character, and then a true seeker after God-and afterwards a genuine believer in the Lord JesusChrist! So it came to pass that when the devil thought he was going to have everything his own way, that very day, this youngman was born to God-truly, "born out of due time."
I remember reading a very striking saying of Mr. Bunyan's. He said he had good reason to believe that in the generation afterhim, there would be many more saints than in the one of which he formed a part. He said his belief was based upon the factthat wherever he went, he found that there were so many great sinners that he hoped they would be converted and become eminentservants of the Lord Jesus Christ. Well, there was a blessed truth at the back of that hope of his, for, very often, wheresin has abounded, Grace does much more abound! And when the Word of God seems to grow scarce and the candle of the Gospelburns but dimly, we may pray and expect that even then some may be "born out of due time" to the praise of the glory of thatGrace which saves as it wills-and often selects the very chief of sinners to be the subjects of it's almighty power!
There have been some dear friends who may be said to have been "born out of due time," for they have been converted to Godafter it seemed impossible that they ever should be. I remember well reading of one who imbibed skeptical
notions and became exceedingly furious against the preaching of the Word. One day, in Edinburgh, he heard it said that a certaineminent minister of the Gospel intended, if he met him, to speak with him about his soul. Whereupon the man uttered some verystrong expressions and, among other wicked things, he said, "I shall never be converted unless I lose my senses!" All whowere acquainted with him and who knew how desperately he was set against the Gospel, thought that his was, indeed, a hopelesscase. But, in the Infinite mercy of God, it turned out to be quite the opposite! He began to suffer from great incoherenceof thought. His mind gradually wandered-when he was trying to speak, he often spoke utter nonsense. He became unfit for businessand had to be put into the custody of someone who watched him as his keeper. Reason was not actually gone, but it was reelingupon its throne, and while he was in that sad state, the case of Nebuchadnezzar came to his mind and he wondered whether Godhad given him up, altogether, on account of what he had said-that he would never be converted while he was in his senses.He turned his mind, all shipwrecked and battered as it was, towards God, and out of the depths of his half-bewildered spirit,he cried unto the Lord as Nebuchadnezzar did-and his mind returned to him and he became a humble, gentle, holy believer inthe Lord Jesus Christ!
Do you not think, dear Friends, that he also was "one born out of due time"? The time of salvation seemed utterly past sofar as he was concerned. He had made a covenant with death and a league with Hell. He had cast off those ordinary beliefswhich many men hold even though they do not obey them-yet, notwithstanding all that, the surprising Grace of God dealt withhim after its own Sovereign manner and laid him low, that it might bring him up again! I do not pray that such a thing mayhappen to anybody here, but I do pray that God may bring you to Christ somehow and if, in order to attain that end, you haveto be driven to the very gates of Hell-so long as you do not actually pass through them-I will rejoice if, afterwards, youare led to flee to Christ for refuge!
Another instance of "one born out of due time" occurs in the case of one converted after the spiritual father is dead. Wesometimes see posthumous children, that is, those who are born after the father is deceased, and there is generally much sorrowmingled with the thought of such births, for the poor widow's heart is doubly troubled by the extra care needed for the littlestranger who arrives after the bread-winner of the family is taken away. But if a man is the means of bringing another toChrist after he, himself, is dead, there need be no sorrow about that matter! There have been many, many instances in whichearnest Christian people have sought the conversion of their relatives or friends. They have prayed for them, and wept overthem, and pleaded with them-but all their efforts have been unsuccessful. Yet, after their death, the memory of their holyzeal has touched the conscience of the one who would not yield, before, and brought him to Christ. I wish, dear Friends, thatyour godly mother, who is in Heaven and who died leaving her son unsaved, might seem to come to you just now. I ask for noapparition, but that she may be consciously present to your mind and that her dying words may ring in your ears, for perhapsthe remembrance of what she said may be blessed to you even now.
When I am taken away, I can but wish that any true and faithful word that I have spoken may still continue to speak to youfrom my grave. When good Mr. Payson died, he begged that his people might come and see him, if they wished, before he wasinterred and those who did so, read these words on his bosom, "Remember the word which I have spoken unto you being yet presentwith you." It was thus his desire, you see, that he should have posthumous spiritual chil-dren-that they should be born toGod even though they should seem to be "born out of due time." Ah, you wives, who have been praying for your husbands thesemany years, never give them up, because they may be brought to Christ when you, yourselves, will be in Heaven! Mothers andfathers, never cease pleading for your children, for they, too, may be brought to Jesus when you are among the angels.
Up in one of the northern counties of England there was a woman, a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, whose prayer went upcontinually for her husband, but he never entered the House of God-and despised her for doing so. She was accustomed to goto her usual place of worship alone, so far as any human companions were concerned, yet she was not quite alone, for therewas a dog that always went with her. This dog curled himself up under the seat and lay quite still during the service, andthen walked home with his mistress. The first Sunday after she was dead, the poor dog went off to the Meeting House as usual,and curled himself up in his old place. He did the same the next Sunday, and the husband, noticing the dog start out so regularly,was struck by its action and wondered where the dog went, now that his mistress was gone. So he thought he would go and see.The dog went before him to his mistress's old seat and curled himself up. The man went in after the dog and sat down in hiswife's place-and God helped the minister, that day, to show him that
his good works and self-righteousness in which he had always trusted, would not be sufficient for his salvation. And the ministerpreached to him the full salvation of Christ Jesus-and the man believed and lived. Was not he, also, "born out of due time,"for his wife's prayers for him were a all over, and she was gone? Yet he was brought to Christ.
The subject is one upon which I might enlarge indefinitely, but I would rather have you to supply further instances of similarblessing by urging you to persevere in prayer, you who are seeking the salvation of others.
Some have been "born out of due time" because they have been converted to God in extreme old age. I would like to encourageany very aged person who is here and still unsaved-and to drive away altogether the notion that it is too late to seek theLord! It is never too late as long as life lasts and there is the power to repent of sin and to turn to the Lord-
"While the lamp holds out to burn, The vilest sinner may return."
I will not quote cases, but I have a vivid recollection of a good many persons who have been saved at the age of 70 or eighty.We have had persons, past both of those periods, baptized upon profession of their newly-found faith. The world's proverbsays, "It is never too late to mend," but Christ would tell you, if He were here in bodily Presence, that it is never toolate for Him to mend you, or rather, for Him to make you anew, for that is the work He undertakes to do. It is never too latefor Him to stretch out His pierced hands and help the man who is tottering on his staff, to become a babe in Christ! Yet,surely when very old men are born again, they seem to be "born out of due time."
Many of you have not yet come to old age, yet if God should save you, tonight, you would be as those who are "born out ofdue time," because you are on the very brink of the grave. Consumption has laid its cruel hand upon you and pulled down allyour strength. In all probability you will not be long in this world. You have come out, tonight, but you are half-afraidthat you have done wrong in coming in the state you are in, with that terrible cough that you have-and you have not foundthe Savior. O my dear young Friend, wherever you may be, it is a sad, sad thing to be carrying about with you, your death-warrant,as you certainly are doing, and yet to have no warrant to believe that when you die, it will be well with you! Oh, I prayyou, do not let Satan tempt you with the idea that now, when sickness is upon you, there is no hope for you!
Come to Jesus, however consumptive you look! Come to Jesus, young man, with that chest that scarcely allows you to breathe!Come unto Him, for He will not cast you away! I remember one, whom I met at Mentone, who had gone there in the hope of lengtheninghis life, but that was quite out of the question, for he was too far gone when he came. He had two sisters who were sent forto come to him, for it was certain that he could not live long. He himself was under deep concern of soul, earnestly seekingthe Lord, but he could not find Him. Day after day, week after week, he had been getting worse and worse and showing all thesigns of his approaching departure, but he could not find peace with God. At last, his sisters came from England. They arrivedjust in time. They found him very anxious about his soul. That night they spoke with him of Jesus and in the morning, early,when they woke, they went to him and he was sitting up in bed, all pale and ghostlike. He said, "Sisters, Christ has forgivenme!" And he fell back on his pillow and he was gone Home. There was an end of his suffering and weakness here below, but theconsolation of that last word to them, and of the joy that beamed from his poor eyes was enough to make them gladly commithis body to the tomb. "Sisters, Christ has forgiven me!" Ah, he was, indeed, "born out of due time"-born between the veryjaws of death! But death's jaws could not close upon him till he had received forgiveness from his Savior. I beseech any ofyou who are in a similar condition to his, do not put off seeking the Lord, but hasten to find Him even now!
Once more, there are some who are "born out of due time" because they are born all of a sudden. They suddenly come to Christ.They suddenly find peace. They are suddenly saved. I wish that might happen to some here tonight. There is no need of anyset period for this all-important matter! Time is no element in the matter. God can work conviction and conversion in a singleinstant. You know that, sometimes, you see a flash of lightning and then you wait several seconds before you hear the thunder.But when a storm is right overhead, the flash and the slap are simultaneous, and down comes the pouring rain at the same time!And, in like manner, the Lord knows how to send a flash of conviction and, at the same instant, to make His deep voice ofmercy to be heard in the soul-and to send the floods of Grace upon the spirit then and there! Why should He not do so tonightfor any of you who need these blessings?
Now I will tell you the special reason why I chose this text. It is because this is the 29th of February and it is a Sunday.There is a large number of you who never saw a 29th of February on Sunday, before, and there is a still larger number
who will never see the 29th of February on a Sunday, again. I suppose it will be 28 years before that will occur again. So,this is a Sunday thrown in, as it were. It is an odd kind of day, an extra day in the calendar. If you ask our friends ofthe Greek Church, the Russians, they will tell you that there is not such a day at all, for they keep to the old system ofreckoning time. This plan of putting in an odd day every four years, to make our days square with the sun, is a very goodand proper one. Still, it is a kind of a day thrown in, and it seemed to me that, if the Lord would convert some souls onthis odd day in this leap year, it would make the 29th of February, that came on a Sunday, to be specially memorable! Youwill not forget it if it is the day of your conversion! You will say to your children, it may be, 28 years hence, if you arealive, "Ah, I recollect when the 29th of February last came on a Sunday-that was the day when I sought and found the Lord!Mr. Spurgeon said that I was like the Apostle Paul, 'one born out of due time,' and so I was. Yet I was born in due time,I know, according to the Covenant of Grace."
Oh that the Lord, in His Infinite mercy, having given us this special day, would now give us a special blessing and bringmany to Himself this leap year! Oh, that all of you who are still unsaved, would make a leap right out of the kingdom of darknessinto the Kingdom of His dear Son, His Holy Spirit enabling you so to do by a simple act of faith in Jesus Christ! And youChristian people, pray for a special and unusual blessing, a 29th of February blessing. Ask God to give it to us, in His infinitemercy, that many and many a soul may be "born out of due time" this very night!
Who shall it be? And where shall the work of repentance begin? Does not somebody over there say, "Lord, let it be me"? Thereis said to be a special opportunity of making proposals in leap year, but I can tell you, if you make a proposal to come toChrist, that He has long ago set His heart on you! You would never have thought of proposing to Him if He had not first ofall ordained to bring you to Himself! If you come to Him, He will receive you and oh, in His great mercy, may the Holy Spiritincline you to come to Him this 29th of February that falls upon a Sunday!
II. Now I have only two or three minutes left for the second part of my subject-THE SURE EVIDENCES OF PAUL'S SPIRITUAL BIRTH.
Though Paul was, in a spiritual sense, "born out of due time," he was truly born again. And those persons who have been convertedat singular times and, under strange circumstances, have been really converted. How do we know that Paul was born again andthat he was called to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ?
I answer, first, because he had seen the Lord. After mentioning those who saw the risen Christ, he says, "Last of all He wasseen of me, also, as of one born out of due time." The first evidence that he was an Apostle was that he had actually beheldthe Lord. Now, in a spiritual sense, one of the marks of a true Believer is that he has seen the Lord. My dear Friend, ifyou have looked to Christ for forgiveness, even though you have only looked to Him, tonight, and this is an odd night-the29th of February, yet, if you have, by faith, seen Jesus on the Cross, and truly trusted Him, you are as much saved as theman is who believed in Christ 50 years ago! Looking to Jesus is the evidence that we are born again- and happy is everyonewho can truthfully say, concerning Christ, "He was seen of me, also."-
"Isaw One hanging on a tree, In agonies and blood."
I looked to Him. He looked on me and we were one forever. I trusted Him and, therefore, I am saved. If you can say that fromyour heart and the Holy Spirit bears witness that what you say is true, you need not raise any question about your new birth!If you are trusting in Jesus, it is well with your soul in time and to eternity!
The next evidence of his spiritual birth, which Paul gave, was that he confessed his sin. Read the verse following our text."For I am the least of the Apostles, that am not meet to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the church of God." Seehow he confessed his sin and forsook it? "He that covers his sins shall not prosper, but who confesses and forsakes them shallhave mercy." Are you, dear Friend, willing, now, to confess your sin? Do you turn from it with loathing? Do you desire, henceforth,to be delivered entirely from it? Well, then, your repentance is another sure evidence that you are born again! If you haveseen Jesus taking your sin upon Himself and suffering its dread penalty. If you have confessed your sin and, by faith, laidit upon Him as your Sacrifice and Substitute, you are born again, though you may have been, in a certain sense, "born outof due time."
Next, we are sure that Paul was really born again because he was thoroughly converted. Never was there a greater change inany man than there was in him! He never went back to his former life and he had no hankering to return to it. With him, oldthings had passed away and all things had become new-he was, indeed, a new creature in Christ Jesus!
I am sure he was converted, also, because he praised the Grace of God. Read the 10th verse. "By the Grace of God I am whatI am." Even when he truthfully says, "I labored more abundantly than they all," he humbly adds, "yet not I, but the Graceof God which was with me." It its a sure sign of conversion when a man knows that he is saved by Grace, alone, and does notattribute it to his own merit, or his own works, but praises and adores the Sovereign Mercy and Grace of God. Have you thatevidence, dear Friend? Then you are born aright, even though "born out of due time."
And, lastly, Paul proved that he was a true citizen of the New Jerusalem because he became, of all men, most zealous for Christ,zealous for the Gospel, zealous for the winning of souls. He seemed to try to do all he could to undo the mischief he hadworked in the days of his unregeneracy and to work with both his hands and all his heart to establish and extend the Kingdomwhich once he tried to overthrow. O God, by Your great mercy, cause another Paul to be born in this House of Prayer tonight!You can do it. Will You not bring to Yourself, by the power of the Eternal Spirit, some wild, threatening, blustering, blaspheminghater of Christ? Lay him at the dear feet of the Crucified and cause him to look up and live!
Pray for this, dear Christian people. Pray for it tonight when you reach your homes as well as now! And then we shall havespecial reason to remember this 29th of February. Possibly, someone who will, in days to come, stand on this very spot preachingthe Gospel of Jesus Christ, will say to you, "Do you remember the 29th of February, 1880? Do you remember the text, 'One bornout of due time'?" I trust that some of you will be here to hear him say, "I remember it better than any of you do, for thatwas the night when I was born to God, glory be to His holy name!" Now pray for it with all your hearts, for our Lord JesusChrist's sake. Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: JOHN3:1-18.
If you were sent for to visit a dying man and you wished to select a chapter which would set the Truth of God before him verybriefly and very clearly, you could not make a better choice than this 3rd Chapter of the Gospel according to John. So, aswe are all dying men and women, let us read it with that same desire-and may the Holy Spirit apply it to our hearts as weread it.
Verses 1, 2. There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night That wasbetter than not coming at all. "Better late than never." Better come to Christ in the dark than not come to Him at all.
2. And said unto Him, Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that You do, exceptGod be with him. This was good reasoning on the part of Nicodemus. If he did not at first go as far as he afterwards did,it argued well for him that he went as far as he could. O you who are troubled with unbelief, believe as much as you can,and then cry, "Lord, I believe, help You my unbelief and, especially, help me to get rid of it." Confess to Christ what youdo believe, and He will add more to your belief.
3. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdomof God. He cannot understand what it is. He cannot know anything about it. He cannot see it.
4. 5. Nicodemus said unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb andbe born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enterinto the Kingdom of God. If the "water" mentioned here relates to Baptism-which I greatly question-then, certainly, it showsthe way of entrance for a Believer, publicly, into the Kingdom of God. But if it relates to the purifying power of the Spiritof God-as I believe it does-then it teaches us that no man enters into the Kingdom of God and becomes a partaker of its privileges-whichis something more than merely seeing it-except the Spirit of God shall be to him as water purifying him from sin. This isthe reason why a man cannot enter into the spiritualKingdom until he is born again-born from above.
6. That which is born of the flesh is flesh. And "flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God." 6. And that which isborn of the Spirit is spirit And only the new creature, which is thus born, can, by any possibility, understand or enter intothe possession of the spiritual things which belong to the Kingdom of God.
7, 8. Marvel not that I said unto you, You must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound thereof,but cannot tell from where it comes, and where it goes: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit The Holy Spirit is mysterious,like the wind, and so is the creature that is "born of the Spirit." The spiritual man often cannot understand himself, heis so mysterious a being-how then shall he be able to fully comprehend how that wondrous new life is created within him? Allwe know is that he is a new creation, as much the work of eternal power as our first creation.
9, 10. Nicodemus answered and said unto Him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Are you a master ofIsrael, and know not these things? ' 'These things" that lie at the very root of everything? "Are you a Rabbi and do you notknow this?" Alas, good Master, there are still many Rabbis who do not understand this! Many who have taken the highest degreethe University can give them, yet do not know in their own souls what it is to be born again!
11. Verily, verily, I say unto you, We speak what We know, and testify what We have seen; and you receive not Our witness.Spiritual men declare that there are spiritual things. They know them and have seen them, and they have a right to be believed,for they are not liars. They are honest men and speak what they know, yet, often, their witness is not received. They neednot be surprised at this, for it was the same with their Master!
12. If I have told you earthly things, and you believe not, how shall you believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? If theseelementary Truths of God about the new birth stagger you, what is the use of My going on to anything higher? You would notunderstand it, or receive it.
13. And no man has ascended up to Heaven, but He that came down from Heaven, even the Son of Man which is in Heaven. He aloneknows the secrets of God who has been with God, who has come from God, and who is still with God.
14-18. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up: that whoever believesin Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoeverbelieves in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For Godsent not His Son into the world to condemn the world;but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believes on Him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemnedalready, because he has not believedin the name ofthe only-begotten Son of God. God give us, even now, deliverance from condemnationthrough faith in His dear Son-and prevent our being condemned through our unbelief-for our Lord Jesus Christ's sake! Amen.