23 May 2009

No Need to Feed the Dead

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following selection is from "Feeding on the Bread of Life," a sermon preached at the Met Tab in London on Sunday evening 6 November 1881. The illustration with which Spurgeon opened this sermon came to mind while we were visiting the Capuchin crypt at Savoca, near Messina, Sicily, this morning.

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life."—John 6:47, 48.

BSERVE carefully the order in which our Lord puts the two blessings he mentions;—first, life through believing on him, and then food to sustain that life;—first, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life;" and next to that, "I am that bread of life." Life comes first, and food follows afterwards. It is impossible for a dead man to feed, or to be fed; only the living can eat and drink.

I once went into the monastery of the Capuchins at Rome, and there I saw certain of the departed brotherhood dressed in their regular habits, although they had been dead, some of them a hundred years, some fifty, and one gentleman, I think, had scarcely been dead more than a year or so; but there they sat, with their breviaries in their hands, just as, if they had been alive; yet I did not see any preparations for feeding them. It would have been as ridiculous to attempt to feed them as it was to keep them there at all.



Now, when we preach the gospel, unless you have spiritual life, you cannot feed upon it; and if you were to come to the communion table, unless you were truly alive unto God, you might eat the bread, and drink the wine, but with real spiritual food, the body of Christ, and the blood of Christ, you could have nothing to do. We do not give food to people in order to make them live. That would be a useless experiment; but, because they are alive, they take food in order to sustain and nourish the life which is already in them. Always recollect, dear friends, that the best spiritual food in the world is useless to those who are spiritually dead; and one very essential part of the gospel is that truth which our Savior so plainly taught, "Ye must be born again." All attempts at feeding the soul are of no use until the new birth has been experienced; even that precious, priceless bread of life cannot be assimilated unless the soul has been quickened by the Spirit of God.

Judge, then, my hearers, whether you are alive unto God, or not. Before you can rightly know the truth, before you are qualified to learn its mysteries, pray that you may be made to live by faith in Jesus Christ; for before food comes life.

But, next, after life there must be food; for, just as surely as there will be no use for the food without the life, so will there be no continuance of the life without the food.

C. H. Spurgeon


17 comments:

AspiringTheologian said...

Spurgeon's comments on the Eucharist are interesting. "We do not give food to people in order to make them live. . . they take food in order to sustain and nourish the life which is already in them." I did not realize Spurgeon was so sacramental in his thinking. His comments here are very good.

Rick Frueh said...

"Judge, then, my hearers, whether you are alive unto God, or not. Before you can rightly know the truth, before you are qualified to learn its mysteries, pray that you may be made to live by faith in Jesus Christ; for before food comes life."

I love it when Spurgeon, my favorite preacher, speaks my language!

Jon said...

This strikes against all those seeker-sensitive churches that let people revel in their sin until they feel comfortable enough to tell them the real "truth" of the gospel.

Oh, if they would only listen to people like Spurgeon...

willohroots said...

That picture is down right creepy. This could be the origination of the zombie movies.
Spurgeon's sermon on 'Fencing the Table' struck home with me and caused a total rethink. Great teachers reach through time to touch us, if we are alive.

NoLongerBlind said...

@Rick F:
"....whether you are alive unto God, or not. // ...pray that you may be made to live by faith in Jesus Christ; for before food comes life."

If I didn't know better, brother, you sayin' this is "your language" would give me the impression that you iz a Calvinist!
=;^P
Tom

Ruth said...

Can you provide a link to the sermon "Feeding on the Bread of Life"?

I followed the "The Spurgeon Archive" link, but it's not clear how to get to the text or audio of the sermon you referenced.

Thanks in advanced. :)

DJP said...

Click.

Rick Frueh said...

NoLongerBlind - I hope you didn't move all in with that bet! I was addressing the paradox of suggesting a dead man pray to be made alive in Christ.

I agree with Spurgeon, he would not agree with me. A great paradox.

Marie said...

National Geographic recently had a full article with many morbid pictures of that monastery.

This is good. I've often mused to myself, "What's wrong with so and so? He/she has heard the Gospel umpteen times; what's the problem already?? How could anyone be so obtuse?"

Spurgeon states the problem so eloquently. They're dead.

Sir Brass said...

@ Rick. No, it is that only a man made alive will HUNGER for Christ. So, when we exhort men to be made alive, the only ones who WILL DO SO are the ones whom God has made to live.

Remember that we are but God's creatures, who are privileged to think His thoughts AFTER Him. When we respond in Faith, we've already been granted the faith to believe.

You still assume that a dead man can live before being made alive, and you assume Spurgeon believed the same thing. He did not, and that is not at all what he said :).

Rick Frueh said...

Brass - does this quote,

"Judge, then, my hearers, whether you are alive unto God, or not. Before you can rightly know the truth, before you are qualified to learn its mysteries, pray that you may be made to live by faith in Jesus Christ"

not suggest that a dead man can pray to be made alive? Additionally, isn't Spurgeon calling all men, saved and lost - dead and alive, To judge themselves? How does a dead man discern he is dead?

(BTW - I never hold it against Spurgeon when he uses some language with which I agree.)

Mike Riccardi said...

Oh Rick...

He discerns that when He is made alive by God. That it is God's work to quicken a man to hear does not excuse the man from the responsibility to hear, nor the preacher from the responsibility to call the man to life.

That you agree with Spurgeon, and that he doesn't agree with you, should tell you not that there's some paradox working here, but that one of you aren't clear on definitions. I'll give you one guess, my brother, which one of you it is. ;o)

Rick Frueh said...

I count Spurgeon to have no more of God's Spirit as do I, and I believe the Holy Spirit will guide me just as He guided Spurgeon. Neither of us are inerant and neither of our interpretations should be received only through us.

Spurgeon is my favorite preacher and God has used his linguistic gifts to glorify Christ. The doctrinal squabbles? They are usually of less value to me, especially when the squabbles don't stray from the parameters of orthodoxy, which in my neighborhood, include both Calvinism and Arminianism.

Let Christ and His redemption bey the agreed upon zenith of revelations!

Erica said...

http://www.spurgeon.org/calvinis.htm

Neil Mansfield said...

Hi Pyromaniacs

Continue to enjoy your blog - keep up the great work.

I'm not competent to do it myself, but I have often thought it would be great to have a site on the Net where people could post their experience of becoming a Christian. It would be fascinating to hear the various ways that God has worked in the lives of His elect to bring them to faith - particularly if there has been one verse of Scripture that has spoken to their heart. What variety of texts from His inspired word do you think we would see in such accounts? What do you think - is there anyone who might be interested in setting up such a site?

Neil Mansfield

ezekiel said...

I guess then we have to deny the wicked being fattened for slaughter then. Right?

" Unto the wicked, the temporal mercies of God are like food given to bullocks—it does but "prepare them for the day of slaughter" (Jer. 12:3, and cf. Jam. 5:5)."

Neil Mansfield said...

Hi Ezekiel

I think what Spurgeon had in mind was spiritual food to build up saints - feeding on Jesus by faith in believing the words of Scripture that testify of Him. The natural man receives not these things, they are foolishness to him. Also, for those who are spiritually dead, there is no beauty in Him that they desire Him. We should of course speak to the spiritually dead, but the tenor of the message should be the law of God. It should be "Repent and believe the gospel.