A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.

The two (or more) effects of the Gospel.

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Quoting Charles Spurgeon:

“For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?”—2 Corinthians 2:15-16.
And the first sense is this. Many men are hardened in their sins by hearing the gospel. Oh! ’tis terribly and solemnly true, that of all sinners some sanctuary sinners are the worst. Those who can dive deepest into sin, and have the most quiet consciences and hardest hearts, are some who are to be found in God’s own house. I know that a faithful ministry will often prick them, and the stern denunciations of a Boanerges, will frequently make them shake. I am aware that the Word of God will sometimes make their blood curdle within them; but I know (for I have seen the men) that there are many who turn the grace of God into licentiousness, make even God’s truth a stalking-horse for the devil, and abuse God’s grace to pall ate their sin. Such men have I found amongst those who hear the doctrines of grace in their fulness. They will say, “I am elect, therefore I may swear; I am one of those who were chosen of God before the foundation of the world, and therefore I may live as I list.”I have seen the man who stood upon the table of a public house, and grasping the glass in his hand, said, “Mates! I can say more than any of you; I am one of those who are redeemed with Jesus’ precious blood:” and then he drank his tumbler of ale and danced again before them, and sang vile and blasphemous songs. Now, that is a man to whom the gospel is “a savour of death unto death.” He bears the truth, but he perverts it; he takes what is intended by God for his good, and what does he do, he commits suicide therewith. That knife which was given him to open the secrets of the gospel he drives into his own heart…
Yet, once more. I believe the gospel make some men in this world more miserable than they would be. The drunkard could drink, and could revel in his intoxication with greater joy, if he did not hear it said, “All drunkards shall have their portion in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone.” How jovially the Sabbath-breaker would riot through his Sabbaths, if the Bible did not say, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy!” And how happily could the libertine and licentious man drive on his mad career, if he were not told, “The wages of sin is death, and after death the judgment!” But the truth puts the bitter in his cup; the warnings of God freeze the current of his soul. The gospel is like the skeleton at the Egyptian feast. Though by day he laughed at it, by night he will quiver as the aspen leaf, and when the shades of evening gather around him, he will shake at a whisper. At the thought of a future state his joy is spoiled, and immortality instead of being a boon to him, is in its very contemplation the misery of his existence. The sweet wooings of mercy are to him no more harmonious than peals of thunder, because he knows he despises them. Yea, I have known some who have, been in such misery under the gospel, because they would not give up their sins, that they have been ready to take their own lives. Oh! terrible thought! The, gospel is “a savour of death unto death!” Unto how many here is it so? Who are now hearing God’s Word to be damned by it? Who shall retire hence to be hardened by the sound of the truth? Why, every man who does not believe it; for unto those that receive it, it is “a savour of life unto life,” but to unbelievers it is a curse, and a savour of death unto death.”
But another. It is a fact that the gospel of Jesus Christ will increase some mens damnation at the last great day. Again, I startle at myself when I have said it; for it seems too horrible a thought for us to venture to utter—that the gospel of Christ will make hell hotter to some men than it otherwise would have been. Men would all have sunk to hell had it not been for the gospel….
But, blessed be God, the gospel has a second power. Besides being “death unto death,” it is “a savour of life unto life.” Ah! my brethren, some of us could speak, if we were allowed this meaning, of the gospel as being “a savour of life” to us. We can look back to that hour when we were “dead in trespasses and sin.” In vain all Sinai’s thunders; in vain the rousing of the watchmen; we slept on in the death-sleep of our transgressions; nor could, an angel have aroused us. But we look back with joy to that hour when first we stepped within the walls of a sanctuary, and savingly heard the voice of mercy. With some of you it is but a few weeks. I know where ye are and who ye are. But a few weeks or months ago ye too were far from God, but now ye are brought to love him. Canst thou look back my brother Christian, to that very moment when the gospel was to thee—when thou didst cast away thy sins, renounce thy lusts, and turning to God’s Word, received it with full purpose of heart? Ah! that hour—of all hours the sweetest! Nothing can be compared, therewith. I knew a person who for forty or fifty years had been completely deaf. Sitting one morning at her cottage door as some vehicle was passing, she thought she heard melodious music. It was not music; it was but the sound of the vehicle. Her ear had suddenly opened, and that rough sound seemed to her like the music of heaven, because it was the first she had heard for so many years. Even so, the first time our ears were opened to hear the words of love—the assurance of our pardon—we never heard the word so well as we did then; it never seemed so sweet…

Excerpt from a sermon preached on 27th May 1855 at Exeter Hall.

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