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“But God’s firm foundation stands . . .” 2 Timothy 2:19
The foundation upon which our faith rests is that “Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19). The great facts on which genuine faith relies is, that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14), that “for Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18), and that “he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24).
In one word, the great pillar of the Christian’s hope is substitution. The vicarious sacrifice of Christ for the guilty, Christ being made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, Christ offering up a true and proper expiatory and substitutionary sacrifice in the room, place, and stead of as many as the Father gave him, who are known to God by name, and are recognized in their own hearts by their trusting in Jesus—this is the cardinal fact of the gospel. If this foundation were removed, what could we do? But it stands firm as the throne of God.
We know it, we rest on it, we rejoice in it, and our delight is to hold it, to meditate upon it, and to proclaim it while we desire to be actuated and moved by gratitude for it in every part of our life and conversation.
In these days a direct attack is made upon the doctrine of the atonement. Men cannot bear substitution. They gnash their teeth at the thought of the Lamb of God bearing the sin of man.
But we, who know by experience the preciousness of this truth, will proclaim it in defiance of them confidently and unceasingly. We will neither dilute it nor change it, nor fritter it away in any shape or fashion. It shall still be Christ, a positive substitute, bearing human guilt and suffering in the stead of men. We cannot, dare not, give it up, for it is our life, and despite every controversy we feel that “God’s firm foundation stands.”
~ Charles Spurgeon
(HT: The Resurgence)
Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Those who truly serve God are made to feel more and more forcibly that ‘life is real, life is earnest’, if it indeed be life in Christ. In times of great pain, and weakness, and depression, it has come over me to hope that, if I should again recover, I should be more intense than ever; if I could be privileged to climb the pulpit stairs again, I resolved to leave out every bit of flourish from my sermons, to preach nothing but present and pressing truth, and to hurl it at the people with all my might; myself living at high pressure, and putting forth all the energy of which my being is capable. I suppose you, too, have felt like this when you have been laid aside. You have said to yourself, ‘Playtime is over with us, we must get to work. Parade is ended, now comes the tug of war. We must not waste a single moment, but redeem the time, because the days are evil. When we see the wonderful activity of the servants of Satan, and how much they accomplish, we may well be ashamed of ourselves that we do so little for our Redeemer, and that the little is often done so badly that it takes as long to set it right as we spent in the doing of it. Brethren, let us cease from regrets, and come to actual amendment.'” [An All Around Ministry, 162]
Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Evaluation of ministry is good and necessary, but moving forward from the lessons learned by the grace of God is better. God’s mercies are new every morning and even if have wasted time in the past, God is sovereign in using our rags for His glory. But let us not waste a single moment in our service for Christ because “playtime is over”. Let us put our full effort into being faithful to God and to His word in every aspect of our lives, laboring with all our might for His glory and at the end of each day as the chips fall where they may, rest in the glorious truth that “Our God is in the heavens, He does all that He pleases” (Psalm 115.3), including using mere men for the glory of His name however He should choose.
“Having made Jesus your all, you shall find all in Jesus.”
Through the Gospel, you begin to find that the more you put your energy into knowing and loving Jesus, the more satisfying He becomes and the more the things of this world taste like the death they are. Colossians 2.9-10 says, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.” We are filled in Christ! All your heart desires, all you think you want to find in this life, everything you hope the things of this world like your possessions, your looks, your friends, your family, your job, your achievements, you accolades… everything you hope to find satisfaction in is already yours in Christ. It’s already yours!! Praise be to the amazing grace of God who made us “alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Colossians 2:13-15).
“‘Come unto me,’ he says, ‘and I will give you.’ You say, ‘Lord, I cannot give you anything.’ He does not want anything. Come to Jesus, and he says, ‘I will give you.’ Not what you give to God, but what he gives to you, will be your salvation. ‘I will give you‘ — that is the gospel in four words.
Will you come and have it? It lies open before you.”
~ C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, 1950), I:175. Italics original
(HT: Ray Ortlund)
“Oh! Rejoice in the richness of our salvation! When the Lord pardoned our sins, he did not pardon half of them, and leave some of them on the book— but with one stroke of the pen he gave a full receipt for all our debts.
When we went down into the fountain filled with blood, and washed, we did not come up half-clean, but there was no spot nor wrinkle upon us—we were white as snow.”
~ Charles Spurgeon, “The Joy of Salvation”
Abundant, overwhelming and overflowing joy in God is normal. Parched, dry, starving souls are abnormal… but our experience and battle with sin leads us to believe it is normal because parched and dry is more our daily experience than abundant and overflowing joy. If your soul is starving, look to see how far you are from the throne of grace. Prayer is the road to a deeply satisfying, drought-resistant joy in God. Listen to Spurgeon:
“Starving souls live at a distance from the mercy-seat and become like parched fields in times of drought. Consistent wrestling in prayer with God is sure to make the believer strong- if not happy. The nearest place to the gate of heaven is the throne of the heavenly grace. Much alone [with Jesus], and you will have much assurance; little alone with Jesus, your religion will be shallow, polluted with many doubts and fears, and not sparkling with the joy of the Lord. Since the soul-enriching path of prayer is open to the very weakest saint; since no high attainments are required; since you are not bidden to come because you are an advanced saint, but freely invited if you be a saint at all; see to it, dear reader, that you are often in the way of private devotion. Be much on your knees…”
~ Charles Spurgeon, Morning By Morning, October 18
“Remember that the man who truly repents is never satisfied with his own repentance. We can no more repent perfectly than we can live perfectly. However pure our tears, there will always be some dirt in them; there will be something to be repented of even in our best repentance. But listen! To repent is to change your mind about sin, and Christ, and all the great things of God. There is sorrow implied in this; but the main point is the turning of the heart from sin to Christ. If there be this turning, you have the essence of true repentance, even though no alarm and no despair should ever cast their shadow upon your mind.”
Charles Spurgeon, All Of Grace
Fighting sin requires repentance, but Spurgeon rightly reminds that repentance requires turning… and turning not just from sin, but to Christ. Being sorry for sin and wanting to not do it anymore is not true repentance until you also turn to Christ and look to His cross.
The hill of comfort is the hill of Calvary; the house of consolation is built with the wood of the cross; the temple of heavenly blessing is founded upon the riven rock-riven by the spear which pierced his side. No scene in sacred history ever gladdens the soul like Calvary’s tragedy.
Light springs from the midday-midnight of Golgotha, and every herb of the field blooms sweetly beneath the shadow of the once accursed tree. In that place of thirst, grace hath dug a fountain which ever gusheth with waters pure as crystal, each drop capable of alleviating the woes of mankind. You who have had your seasons of conflict, will confess that it was not at Olivet that you ever found comfort, not on the hill of Sinai, nor on Tabor; but Gethsemane, Gabbatha, and Golgotha have been a means of comfort to you. The bitter herbs of Gethsemane have often taken away the bitters of your life; the scourge of Gabbatha has often scourged away your cares, and the groans of Calvary yields us comfort rare and rich.
– Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening
In Matthew 26.37-38 we read, “And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” Words cannot truly express the depth of emotion that our great Savior begins to feel here in the garden. The grief is encompassing, encircling and overwhelming our Lord. Thomas Goodwin, the puritan wrote, “He was plunged head and ears in sorrow and had no breathing-hole.” The grief was overwhelming our Lord to the point where he felt like he was suffocating. Our Savior was drenched with a sorrow so deep that it felt to him as if it were killing him. Surely he had felt grief and sorrow in his life, but why is there now a sudden plunge into deep agony?
Here in the garden, Matthew gives us a view into what it means for Jesus to be Savior and his sinless nature was shocked beyond our comprehension at how intimately he was now being associated with iniquity… iniquity he did not commit. He began to be sorrowful and troubled because the Father began to withdraw His presence from His One and Only Son. Charles Spurgeon said, “The shadow of that great eclipse began to fall upon His spirit when he knelt in that cold midnight amidst the olives of Gethsemane… He was left single-handed… to contend for the deliverance of man.” He now begins to taste what his name means, to be the Savior (Matthew 1.21), what it means to receive God’s full and holy wrath on our sin. The cup that was always future is now this cup and Matthew’s language describes quite simply that Jesus began to be overcome with distress because of the cup’s arrival.
What is this cup? It is a reference fully loaded with Old Testament imagery of God’s wrath against mankind’s sin. Isaiah 51.17, “Wake yourself, wake yourself, stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl, the cup of staggering.” Psalm 11. 6, says it’s a cup of “fire and sulfur and a scorching wind”. Isaiah 51.22 says it is a cup “of staggering; the bowl of my wrath”. This is what caused our Savior to shudder in terror, to become deeply distressed and overcome with sorrow to the point of death. He beheld this now present cup. So overwhelmed, he falls to the ground and prays, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” This cup leading to death is the one held out for Jesus to take from the Father’s hand in fulfillment of his mission to save his people from their sins.
The first Adam, in the Garden of Eden, knew what the will of God was but when the moment came he did not submit his will to line up with the will of God. Now here, the Last Adam, also in a garden, must come to terms in emotion and will with what he has known was coming his entire life. In the garden of Eden, the first Adam said ‘Not your will but mine‘ and sin and death changed Perfection to wilderness. But here, in the garden of Gethsemane, the Last Adam prays ‘Not my will but yours be done’ and it brings extreme sorrow and anguish to him but transforms the wilderness and saves his people from their sins!
“My sole hope for heaven lies in the full atonement made upon Calvary’s cross for the ungodly. On that I firmly rely. I have not the shadow of a hope anywhere else. You are in the same condition as I am; for we neither of us have anything of our own worth as a ground of trust. Let us join hands and stand together at the foot of the cross, and trust our souls once for all to Him who shed His blood for the guilty.”
~ Charles Spurgeon, All of Grace