Sermon 2709. Christ's Past and Present Witnesses
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, JANUARY 13, 1901.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, MARCH 7, 1880.
"And you also shall bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning." John 15:27.
OUR Lord Jesus Christ ought to be believed upon His own unsupported Word, first, because of the Divinity of His Nature. Godcannot lie and that Christ is God is abundantly proved by His miracles. He did that which none but God could do. He oughtalso to be believed because of the perfection of His Character, for even the enemies of the Gospel have been obliged to confessthat the perfection of the Character of Jesus is altogether undeniable. They have critically examined it, but they have notbeen able to find a single fault or flaw in it. They have thrust the Character of Christ into a furnace such as that in whichmen try silver-and they have heated the furnace seven times hotter than usual-yet has the Character of Christ come forth unhurtfrom every trial. A perfect Man ought to be believed when He speaks. The perfection of His Character proves Him to be worthyof confidence.
Put together, then, the Godhead and the perfect Manhood of Christ, and I am not too bold when I say that He deserves to bebelieved upon His bare Word without any further witness. Yet such is the natural infidelity of the human heart with regardto anything that comes from God-so resolutely do men shut their eyes against the light lest they should be reproved by it-thatour Lord Jesus Christ has not left Himself without witnesses. The first and chief Witness to Christ is the Holy Spirit. Readagain the verse preceding our text, upon which I have already commented-"When the Comforter is come, whom I will send untoyou from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceeds from the Father, He shall testify of Me." The Holy Spirit isstill here on earth, working spiritual miracles in the hearts of men, and those works of His are the attestation and sealof the mission of Christ, that He is, indeed, the Savior of men. "There are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit,and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one." The water and the blood are two things about which we, ourselves,become witnesses, as I shall show you directly, but the point I want you to notice just now is that as it was with the Apostles,so is it in a measure with ourselves, for we are called, as they were, to the most honorable office conceivable, seeing thatwe are called to do what the Holy Spirit, Himself, deigns to do, that is, to witness to Christ, for, after He had spoken ofthe testimony of the Spirit of Truth, He added, "And you also shall bear witness." We are to be laborers together with theHoly Spirit! We are to stand, as it were, in the witness-box with Him, and bear similar testimony to that which He bears concerningChrist-"He shall testify of Me: and you also shall bear witness." Oh, what an honorable position we are to occupy! What agrand work we are to do-a work which an angel might envy us, for we are to be witnesses, together with the Holy Spirit, concerningChrist!
In handling this text, I shall have, first of all, to remark that the Apostles were witnesses to the facts of Christ's life.He said to them, "You also shall bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning." Then I shall have to showyou that Believers are now witnesses to the results of Christ's Gospel. We have not been with Him from the beginning and,therefore, our witness is not concerning the facts of His life-but we can testify to the results of His Gospel. When I havespoken upon those two themes, I shall close by noticing the objective of both these forms of testimony-the Apostles' witnessto the facts of Christ's life and the Believers' witness to the results of those facts.
I. First, then, the Apostles were stated by Christ to be WITNESSES TO THE FACTS OF HIS LIFE, from the time when they becameHis disciples, right down to the day when He was taken up into Heaven.
You know, dear Friends, how any historical fact comes to be accepted as a fact. It is by the weight of the evidence by whichit is supported. If Tacitus, for instance, makes a statement in his history, as a rule we believe what he says because heis known to be a veracious historian. But Tacitus is certainly not more reliable than is Matthew, or Mark, or Luke, or John,because Tacitus never died for the defense of any statement that he made. But those who bore witness concerning Christ, andwere His historians, were ready to die and did die rather than deny anything that they had said concerning their Lord andMaster. When we find discrepancies in the writings of historians, we examine and weigh the evidence as to any contradictions,so as to see which is the correct record of the facts in question. If anyone made a statement that such-and-such a thing happenedyesterday, and you needed to ascertain if the statement were true, you would call witnesses who saw it. Suppose you couldnot get those witnesses for a month-their testimony would be just as good in a month's time as it is today. Suppose you couldnot get them together for 50 years-their evidence would be just as valid. Or if they had written their testimony, and hadit duly attested, what they had written would be just as good evidence 50 years hence as it would be today and, if true atall, it would stand true-yes, as true as the testimony of these witnesses stands though 1,800 years and more have elapsedsince they bore their witness! We have, concerning the life of Christ, the testimony of those who were with Him from the beginning-andtheir testimony is good because it complies with certain rules which usually apply to reliable evidence.
The first rule is, when witness is borne to any fact, that the witnesses must be sufficiently numerous. There were 11 trueApostles, and 11 good men are quite enough to testify to any fact known to them. There were others besides the Apostles whowere with Christ from the beginning, and in the mouth of any two of these good honest witnesses a fact might be established,so that, in the mouth of the eleven, the truth remains beyond all doubt.
Further, the 11 Apostles had actual sight of the things to which they bore witness. You remember that John says, concerningthe blood and the water which flowed from Christ's side when the soldier pierced it with a spear, "He that saw it bares record,and his record is true: and he knows that he says true." And the same might have been said of all the facts which John recordsin his Gospel, for he was an eyewitness of them-and so was Matthew. He was on the spot and what he wrote was not hearsay,but what he saw with his eyes, and his ears had heard, and his hands had handled. Well, now, 11 witnesses who have actuallyseen a certain thing would be a sufficient number to prevent mistakes and, as I have already reminded you, there were manymore than 11 witnesses on many occasions, especially the witnesses to our Lord's Resurrection, for there were over 500 brethrenat once, and it was not possible that such a large company as that should have been deceived.
Again, these witnesses bore their testimony at or near the time when the events happened, for the Apostles came forward andspoke concerning Christ and His holy, useful, and miraculous life, and His wondrous death and Resurrection just after theevents had occurred. They only waited a little while, according to their Lord's instructions, and then they stood up in themidst of Jerusalem-Peter, who had been with Christ from the beginning, and the other Apostles, bearing witness that thesethings were even so. Had they been liars and false witnesses, they would have been put to confusion, and would have been unableto open their mouths again! But, as they said, these things were not done in a corner, they were common town talk and admittedby everybody to be facts. Moreover, in order especially to establish historical facts, the witnesses must bear testimony onthe spot-and these 11 men did not go off to Rome and there begin to publish that Jesus was the Son of God, and that He workedmiracles, and that He rose from the dead! They did go to Rome and everywhere else, ultimately, but they began at Jerusalemwhere they would have been contradicted if men could contradict them anywhere! But so fully was their witness known to betrue that the very first time they stood up to bear their testimony, though they were unlearned and ignorant men, there were3,000 persons who became the disciples of their slain Master simply through their witness as blessed by the Holy Spirit!
I do not know whether you are prepared to doubt their testimony, but I am not. I am resolved to believe that what they spokewas true and the more so because they spoke very plainly When a man wants to take you in, he often speaks in a roundaboutfashion. He guards his statements and puts them in such a way that he can afterwards say, "Ah, you did not quite understandme! You made a mistake in thinking that was what I meant." But when the people who listened to Peter and John saw their boldness,and heard the plain manner in which they gave their testimony, they knew that the Apostles were speaking of the things whichthey had themselves witnessed. There was no misunderstanding their language-they
were plain, honest, simple-minded, straightforward witnesses to Christ who gave their testimony with great plainness of speech.
Besides, they all agreed in their testimony. True, when we read the four Gospels, we notice that they contain just those littledifferences which prove the men to have been honest, for, if you set four men to tell a story, they will all tell it differentlyeven though each one of them speaks the truth, for each of them will look at the matter from a different standpoint. If allfour of them spoke in exactly the same words and there were no apparent discrepancies between them, you would know that theyhad laid their heads together and concocted the tale in order to deceive their hearers. A judge in court would soon find themout and he would say, "That is a trumped-up story, so they, none of them, go an inch beyond the other for fear they shouldcontradict one another, and so be found out." But the four Evangelists differ in their statements only as honest men mustof necessity differ if they are independent witnesses-and their agreement in the facts to which they testify helps to confirmtheir witness-and to make assurance doubly sure.
Best of all, remember that these men had nothing to gain by their witness concerning Christ. They left all and followed Him.Instead of gaining by their testimony, they were losers of their property, they were losers of their reputation, they werelosers of their comforts, they were losers, even, of their lives! They were so certain that what they had seen was reallytrue that, rather than deny it, "they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wanderedabout in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented." Yet not one of the 11 ever drew back and deniedthe truth of the testimony that he had given! And even the 12th , who was a traitor, confessed that he had taken blood moneyfor the betrayal of his innocent Master. In committing suicide, he gave such witness as "the son of perdition" could that,after all, the Bible was true. His testimony did not, in the least, invalidate the witness of the 11 Apostles.
Now, my dear Friends, it is upon the evidence of these witnesses that the Gospel first commenced to win belief among the sonsof men. True, the Spirit of God witnessed to the truth of that Gospel, but, as far as human instrumentality was concerned,the Apostles were also witnesses and they were good and sufficient witnesses. Nobody ought to ask for any better ones-andif anyone will not believe them, it may be truly said, "Neither would he believe though one rose from the dead."
II. Having spoken of the Apostolic witnesses to the facts of Christ's life, I am now to speak of THE PRESENT WITNESSES TOTHE RESULTS OF HIS GOSPEL.
We who were not with Christ from the beginning cannot bear our personal testimony to the facts of His life. We neither sawHim in Bethlehem's manger, nor on Calvary's Cross, nor in Joseph's tomb, nor as He ascended into Glory from the Mount of Olives,so we cannot testify to those facts as the Apostles could. But we can bear witness to some other things. We can testify tothe results of the Gospel as we have realized them in ourselves. And here we are something better even than eyewitnesses,for we feelas well as seethe things concerning which we testify. I want, my dear Brothers and Sisters, to put very brieflybefore you some things about which you are to bear witness of Christ. Read the text again, with the exception of the lastthree words-"You also shall bear witness, because you have been with Me"-and learn from it that you cannot witness for Christunless you have been with Him. You must have had spiritualdealings with the Lord Jesus Christ and felt the power of His spiritualPresence upon you, or else you cannot be such a witness as our text describes. But if you have been with Him, you can testifyof Him.
The first thing to which some of us can bear witness is the peace-giving power of His precious blood. We were once thoroughlyconvinced that we had broken the Law of God and we were under a dreadful apprehension that God, the Just One, would punishus for this sin. We sought all sorts of ways to find comfort, but we never found any. We tried every nostrum of the wise menof the day, but they all failed us altogether. But the very first time that, by faith, we saw Jesus hanging on the Cross,and knew that by His Sacrifice, He had made Atonement for our sin-I say that, the very moment we put our trust in Him, ourconscience found a wonderful peace and rest! Was it not so with you, Beloved? You were, by faith, with Jesusas you saw Himhanging upon the accursed tree as your Substitute and Surety! Did you not, then, by the Grace of God, find immediate relieffrom the terrible burden of sin which threatened to crush you to the earth? Well, now that you have thus been with Him, youcan bear witness to that fact, can you not?
I know that my witness about it did not need to be told with my lips, for I had not long been in the house, that morning whenI found the Savior, before one who had been anxious about me, said, "There is a change come over my son."
And a delicate question was put, which soon drew out of me the confession that I had looked to Christ and that I was lightened.Why, they could all see in my face the evidence of the change that had been worked-there was all the difference between bondageand liberty, or between despair and delight-and it was because I had been with Christ that I had, in a moment, leaped outof nature's darkness into His marvelous light! So, now, whenever anybody says to me, "Your view of the Atonement, you know,is very old-fashioned-the Doctrine of Substitution is quite out of date"-I am not at all shaken in my belief. The gentlemenof the modern-thought school, who have been to Germany for their theology, do not like that glorious Doctrine of Substitution!They think that the Atonement is a something or other, that in some way or other, somehow or other, has something or otherto do with the salvation of men-but I tell them that their cloudy Gospel might have surrounded me till my hair grew gray,but I would never have been any the better for it! I would never have found peace with God, nor come to love the Lord at allif it had not been that I distinctly saw that He, who knew no sin, was made sin for me, that I might be made the righteousnessof God in Him! When I realized that although I had gone astray from God, and broken His righteous Law, He had laid my iniquityon Christ, and punished Him in my place, my soul found rest at once and, to this day, it cannot rest under any other explanationof the Atonement of Christ! So I bear my own personal witness, and many of you can heartily join with me in bearing similartestimony. You have been with Christ, so you can speak of the power of His substitutionary Sacrifice as begetting peace inyour soul!
Next, we can bear witness to another thing. As soon as we believed in Jesus Christ, we found ourselves strangely altered.Perhaps we had formerly had a merely moral struggle against sin-that was quite proper as far as it went, yet we never succeededin that struggle. I have known many persons who were accustomed to give way to passion, and who never could curb their temper,but when they believed in Jesus, to their surprise they found that the lion was changed into a lamb. I have known men whohad fallen into the habit of using profane language and who could not break away from the evil even when they became awareof the wrong of it-but when they have, by faith, looked to Jesus, and so have been saved-they have never had a temptationto use an oath again. All inclination to that sin seems to have gone clean away from them. Many a time have I seen a drunk,who has signed the pledge-a very good thing to do-but it has not been any use in his case, for he has not kept it. Yet haveI known him, when he has been converted to Christ, keep that pledge and a great deal more-he has gone beyond abstinence fromstrong drink-and has had multitudes of virtues. There are many persons, here present, who do not need to tell people thatbelieving in Christ has worked a complete change in them, because anybody who is acquainted with them can see it.
One man's wife knows all about that change. She had a black eye last year, but she never gets one now. She is as happy asthe birds in the air with that husband of hers who has given up going to the public house, and who is now found walking inthe ways of God. There is a mother who said to me, "I know that my boy is converted, Sir. Oh, what a trouble he had been tome! What a rebellious, disobedient child he was! But, now, though he is only a little boy, he makes a conscience of obeyinghis mother and he tries to make everybody happy." This is witness-bearing, and this is what our Lord Jesus Christ meant youwho have been with Him, and have learned of Him, to do. His transforming hand has touched you, and changed you-and you canbear witness of that fact. Why, if all the unbelievers in the world were to say to some people whom I know, "The Grace ofGod has made no difference in you," they would be obliged to laugh with a holy laughter like that of Abraham! They could nothelp it, for the Grace of God has so completely changed them that if Hell were made into Heaven, the difference would notbe much greater than is the change from what they were to what they now are! Well, this is good witness. I pray God that manyof you may be able to bear it.
There is a third witness which many of us can also bear. When we get near to Christ in holy fellowship and commune much withHim in private prayer, we find that our love for good things becomes very strong, our zeal for God's cause is intensifiedand, moreover, our love to all mankind is increased. We find ourselves willing to forgive our adversaries and we are anxiousin every way to prove the reality of our love to God. But if we get away from Christ, we do not take much interest in holythings. Then our chief concern consists in making as much money as we can, or in enjoying as much so-called pleasure as wecan. If any of you, Brothers and Sisters, try the modern theology, you will soon see whether it will do your soul any good.I have known some who have tried it and I have noticed the change in their life and conversation-no spirituality, no loveto God, and no care about the best things. They talk about politicalreligion, but there is very little of vital godlinessthat is ever spoken of by them.
But if you get near to Christ and learn the power of His precious blood, and dwell in Him, and live upon Him, you will thensee whether it does not sanctify you. I am sure you must all bear witness, you who live farthest away from Christ, that youare worse men and worse women when you wander away from Him, and that the nearer you get to Him, and the more He occupiesyour thoughts, the more swiftly is your evil temper overcome, and your whole heart filled with love to God and love to men.I know it is so! And that is another witness to the Truth of the Gospel, for that which promotes holiness cannot be, itself,a lie! I lay it down as an axiom that whatever makes men holy must be true, because truth and right are in the same line ofthings. That which creates evil is itself a falsehood, and that which creates holiness is and must be true.
Another thing to which we can bear witness is, the renewing power of God's Grace. Whenever we grow dull with regard to eternalthings, and careless concerning our own souls, we find, I think, that getting near to Christ again, coming back to the Cross,plunging afresh in the-
"Fountain filled with blood, Drawn from Immanuel's veins"- sitting at His feet again, eating His flesh and drinking His bloodagain-all this wonderfully refreshes us. There is a fable concerning a bath, of which it was said that if old men washed therein,it took the furrows from their brows and made them young again. But, certainly, when we dwell in Christ, He takes away thedecrepitude of our declining Grace and we grow vigorous once more. We renew our youth, like the eagle's, when our mouth issatisfied with the good things of Christ! Have you not found it to be so, you who had grown dull and cold? Have you not beenrefreshed and revived by coming back to Him? The very genius of the Christian religion is enthusiasm, but the enthusiasm iscreated by contact with Christ. As we come near to our great Captain, every soldier in the ranks of the King's army feelsthat he must be a hero. We look at His scars and wounds, and see what He did and suffered, and then we feel that it wouldbe mean and contemptible on our part to be otherwise than altogether in earnest for so great and good a Lord, and for so granda cause!
I think that many of you must also have noticed-and if so, you can bear witness to it-the comforting power of the Presenceof Christ with you. All of you who know the Lord have had troubles of different kinds to carry to the Lord in prayer. I willsuppose that you, my Friend, have lost a good deal of money in business, and that you have fretted and worried a great dealover it. If it has been so with you, I will tell you when you worried over your loss-it was before you took the matter tothe Lord in prayer. But after you had spread the whole case before Him, it is amazing how different it looked! The circumstancesseemed quite changed and you took up the cross, and you found it very light compared with what it had been before. Perhapssome of you know what it is to be teased and perplexed by unreasonable and wicked men, and you have been apt to get very snappishunder their attacks. If that is what has happened to you, my Brother, I know when it was-it was when you had not been withJesus and tried to meet the trouble by yourself. But after you have had a few minutes of private prayer, you have come downinto the arena and you have seemed to say, "I am ready for you now! You may do what you like, for I am calm and quiet, andI can bear it all, for I have been with Jesus, and He has given me strength according to my day." If you have been slanderedand persecuted for righteousness' sake, and have had your heart wounded by some cruel stab, you have been restored by gettingnear to Christ, and you have been able to sing-
"If on my face for Your dear name, Shame and reproaches be, All hail reproach, and welcome shame, If You remember me."
On the bed of sickness, or by the grave where your loved ones are buried, your heart has been sustained and comforted if youhave been with Jesus! Yes, that witness is true, and tens of thousands can confirm it, that there is no sustaining power inanything else that is worthy to be compared with the sustaining energy of communion with the Lord Jesus Christ! Those whohave ever felt its gracious influence must know that this is the Truth of God, for Christ's Presence most wondrously bearstheir spirit up when everything else gives way.
One of the evidences of the Truth of the Gospel which, perhaps, strikes onlookers more than any other, is the serenity withwhich the Presence of Christ endows His people when they come to die. Their end is often very peaceful and very beautiful.There died, last week, not far from here, a young man whose brother, as he watched him, saw tokens of such
wonderful happiness in him that he said to him, "Brother, what can I do to be as happy as you are?" The dying man's answerwas, "It is all in Number 1,500. It is all in Number 1,500." You know that sermon of mine about the bronze serpent? [Volume25, #1500- "LIFTING UP THE BRONZE SERPENT-read/download the entire sermon free of charge at http://www.spurgeongems.org .]The young
man said to his brother, "It is all in Number 1,500. It is Jesus only, Jesus only. Look to Jesus, look and live. It is allthere." His brother said that he could not tell exactly when he passed away, so sweet was the serenity that the Presence ofthe Master gave him. I could take you to the Stockwell Orphanage, to the bedside of a little boy who may be in Heaven by now,but when I saw him on Monday, he said to me, "I shall soon die, Mr. Spurgeon. And when I think I am going, as I sometimesdo at night, I clap my hands at the thought that I shall so soon be with Jesus." Poor little fellow, he could hardly liftthose thin hands of his, yet he clapped them with delight at the thought that he should so soon be with Jesus! It would havedone you good if you could have seen him, and so it would if you could have seen our dear Sister, Mrs. White, the wife ofour beloved elder, when she knew that she had a cancer which would soon take her Home. The look of her face is with me now.I sat by her bedside and it was more than a sermon to me-it made me feel willing to die at any time when I saw the calm serenitywith which that suffering saint looked forward to her departure. She did not regard death as a thing to be spoken of as adreadful and terrible matter, but she calmly spoke of being with Christ, which was far better than being with the dearestfriends on earth!
This holy serenity has often convinced ungodly men of the Truth of the Gospel-and though you and I cannot at present bearthat witness, yet very likely we shall do so in due season and, already, so many thousands of saints have borne this witnessto the power of faith in Christ that it ought to be regarded, and a deaf ear ought not to be turned to it. Look at the thousandsof martyrs who have calmly stood at the stake and been burned to death for Christ's sake, and yet have cried, "None but Jesus!None but Jesus!" And, faithful to the end, have gone up in a chariot of fire to be "forever with the Lord." What but the Gospelof Christ could string them up to such wondrous courage and press their spirits into such a sacred equanimity that even deathitself was despised by them, so that they cried, with the Apostle, "O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?"In all these points, you also, who love the Lord, are to be witnesses for Christ.
I had many other things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. Therefore, let me sum up all by saying- beloved Brothersand Sisters, members of this Church, and members of the one Church of Jesus Christ, be good witnesses for your Lord, rememberingthat you are standing up with the Holy Spirit to testify concerning Him. Oh, be such witnesses that none need be ashamed ofyou!
Remember that witness must be personal, not hearsay. A good woman in the witness box begins, "She said," said she, but thejudge stops her, and says, "We do not want to know what she said, what did you yourself see?" So, dear Friends, it is no usefor you to try to bear testimony to the world about a thing you never saw and never felt. Personal godliness must be at thebottom of all evidence concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If a man has no faith, let him not talk about faith. If he hasnever known the Lord, let him hold his tongue till he does know Him, for it must be personal witness that must be borne ifit is to be of any value.
Further, it must be real, not fancied. The judge would at once stop a witness if he said, "My lord, I thought," and he wouldsay, "We do not want your thoughts, my dear Sir. What did you see?" In like manner, we want to know what you have felt aboutChrist, not what you have fancied concerning Him. What has been really true in your spiritual life? What has been proved tobe true by your actions?
Next, good witness must be consistent, not contradictory, for, when a witness contradicts himself, his evidence is not regardedas of any value. So, if you say, "The Gospel makes me holy," but you are caught in an act of cheating, or you lose your temper,or your talk is not clean, men will say, "Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing, but which are we to believe?"
And, once more, good testimony must be persistent, not variable, for, if a man says one thing now, and another thing anothertime, you naturally say, "We never know where to find that fellow." That is the case with far too many professors-we do notknow where to find them. On a Sunday, they are careful to carry a Bible and a hymn-book, but I have heard that, on a weekday, they are more likely to have a pack of cards in their hand. On Sunday, it is, "Sing a hymn to Jesus." But on Monday,it is, "Sing to anybody you like." On Sunday, it is, "Fear God." But on Monday, if it were not for the fear of the policeman,nobody knows what they might attempt! This will not do. If you are not consistent
throughout your whole lives-if you are not all of one piece-I almost wish that you were all the bad piece, because this mixture,this mingle-mangle, this Baal and Jehovah, this partly for God and partly for Mammon-this is the great mischief-making thingin the professing Church today! Oh, that God would give us the Grace to bear persistent, consistent, unvarying witness tothe power of the Gospel on our souls and in our lives!
To anyone who does not believe the Gospel, I have this word to say. My Friend, you have come in here tonight and yet you arenot a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. Is the Gospel true? Probably you reply, "Yes, I believe it is true." Well, then,if it is true, why do you not believe it? If Jesus Christ is true, why do you not believe Him? The Gospel tells you aboutyour souls, about eternity, about Heaven, about Hell, about the only way of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Then,if it is true, why do you not believe it? Why do you not see to it that your soul is right with God through believing in JesusChrist? I would like to bring you to a point so that you would say of the Gospel, "I believe it," or, "I reject it."
Suppose you should reject it? Then you practically say that the Apostles were liars-that they bore testimony to a set of lies!More than that, you are prepared to say that all the myriads of martyrs who died for the Truth of God were fools, for theydied in the defense of a fiction-that they went to prison and lost all things, and suffered every kind of ill treatment andtorture for the sake of this Gospel-yet you say that they were fools, all of them, and that you are the one wise man who knowsmore than all of them! Well, we have only your word for that, and we are not as sure about it as you seem to be. Further,you are prepared to say that all of us who declare that belief in Christ gave us peace of conscience, changed our lives, comfortsour hearts and supports us in sickness-you say that we are all under a delusion! And your mother, when she died sweetly rejoicingin Christ-was she deluded, too? And the little child who died singing of Jesus, and who bade her father follow her to Heaven,was she also deceived? Were these wrong? Were all these mistaken? And those of whom I have spoken, whom I have myself seenwithin this last week, of whose calmness and serenity on their deathbeds I have testified to you-was that all a delusion?I should like you to say that to the little boy at the Orphanage, only I do not think that you would have the heart to doit. But if you did, it would not make any difference to him because he knows better!
If you were to tell me, when I eat my dinner, that I am not nourished by it, and that I do not enjoy it-that it is only justan idea and a fancy-well, you know, I would not argue with you-I would laugh at you! And I often feel inclined to laugh atunbelievers-only I remember how much they are losing, and in what danger they stand-so my laughter turns to tears. Oh, thatyou would believe the Gospel! It makes me happy. It makes me blessed. I cannot live without it and I dare not die withoutit! And, blessed be God, I will not try either experiment, to live without it, or to die without it. No, I can still say-
"Ever since by faith I saw the stream His flowing wounds supply, Redeeming love has been my theme, And shall be till I die"-
for I know that it is true! I have been with Jesus and, therefore, I bear witness to Him! Go and do likewise, only do it muchbetter than I have done it, all you who have been with Him, and God bless you, for Christ's sake! Amen and Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: JOHN 15:12-27.
Verse 12. This is My commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you. O Beloved, do keep this commandment! Overlookeach other's infirmities. Bear with each other's faults. Love one another as Christ has loved us!
13-15. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whateverI command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knows not what his lord does: but I have called you friends;for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you. "I have explained Myself to you in such a way thatI have proved that you are My friends. A master sets his servant to work without explaining what his objective is in thatwork, but I have explained to you what My Father's design is. Therefore, you are My friends."
16-21. You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and thatyour fruit should remain: that whatever you shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it to you. These
things I command you, that you love one another. If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. Ifyou were of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of theworld, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said unto you, A servant is not greater than his master Ifthey have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also. But all thesethings will they do unto you for My name's sake, because they know not Him that sent Me. We cannot expect, therefore, to receivehonor and to wear a crown of gold where Jesus wore a crown of thorns!
22-24. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hatesMe, hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no other man did, they had not had sin. They wouldhave been comparatively free from sin.
24-26. But nowhave they both seen andhated both Me andMy Father But this happened that the Word might be fulfilled that iswritten in their law, They hated Me without a cause. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father,even the Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father, He shall testify of Me. Notice that blessed Truth of God-that eventhat Divine Person, the Holy Spirit, when He comes to visit us, has nothing better to speak of than our Lord Jesus Christ!"He shall testify of Me." Even the Holy Spirit, when He exercises the function of the Comforter, testifies of Christ! Is Henot the consolation of Israel? Well did the poet write-
"You dear Redeemer, dying Lamb, We love to hear of Thee! No music's like Your charming name, Nor half so sweet can be."
27. And you also shall bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.